By Ben Olson
A cougar was spotted in Sandpoint on Thursday morning. Local resident Casey Calhoun said she spotted the mountain lion near her home on Poplar St. and Ruth Ave. around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.
“I was just sitting in my living room with my friend,” said Calhoun. “And she was looking at the alleyway and said, ‘There’s a freakin’ cougar in the alleyway.”
Calhoun got up to see it, but could only catch a sight of the animal’s tail.
“I saw the long, thick tail, but it had gotten too far away,” she said. “A minute later, it came back.”
Calhoun said the cougar walked horizontally across her path and she got a glimpse of its full body.
“It was for sure a cougar,” she said. “The weird part is, it was black.”
According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, a melanistic, or black, genetic trait occurs from time to time making an individual cat’s fur appear much darker than the usual coloration. To date, however, there has bever been a confirmed case of a melanistic (black) mountain lion.
Calhoun called the Sandpoint Police Department to report the sighting.
Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon responded to the call along with another deputy and a representative from Idaho Fish and Game.
Coon said there was a chance the tracks could have come from a dog.
“Fish and Game came out and looked at the tracks,” said Coon. “It was close enough that we weren’t going to rule it out that it could’ve (come from a) dog. The prints resembled that of a cougar track. We didn’t want to come out and say that it wasn’t, so we erred on the side of caution.”
For Calhoun, the experience was one she’ll most likely remember.
“It was a trip,” she said. “It was pretty far away, but I knew it was a cougar. I feel like it wasn’t full grown, but it wasn’t a baby either.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct an earlier version which stated the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call when it was actually the Sandpoint Police Department.
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