Quilcene school locked down for afternoon because of cougar

Students escorted to buses and cars safely

Posted 5/29/19

Quilcene students received a practical wildlife biology lesson just before Memorial Day weekend, when some local wildlife got a little too close for comfort.

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Quilcene school locked down for afternoon because of cougar

Students escorted to buses and cars safely

Posted

Quilcene students received a practical wildlife biology lesson just before Memorial Day weekend, when some local wildlife got a little too close for comfort.

According to Quilcene School District Superintendent Frank Redmon, a cougar was seen by a parent near the southeast corner of the school property, across the street from the football field, at about 2:15 p.m. May 23.

“We brought all of the students indoors in a modified lockdown immediately, and kept them inside for the rest of the day,” Redmon said.

Redmon reported the district called the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and he credited both agencies with responding quickly and patrolling the area to help maintain student safety.

“At dismissal time, we ensured all our students stayed in groups, and were escorted to their buses and cars by staff members,” Redmon said, adding the district sent out information via phone and email to parents, to let them know about the sighting and what was done in response.

According to Redmon, after the initial sighting, no one else saw the cougar, although one report from a community member indicated it was heading southeast along the Big Quilcene River.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Capt. Ben Stamper received additional word, but could not confirm, that the animal was later destroyed.

“Our primary goal was just to get the kids out of the school building and into the buses and cars,” Stamper said. “We weren’t as active in searching for the animal.”

Redmon agreed that student safety and well-being is the district’s greatest concern as well.

“We plan to help students learn from this,” Redmon said, telling The Leader that May 24 would include a special seminar to help students understand how to keep themselves safe in scenarios like this in the future. “We are also continuing to work with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide education and training for our students and staff.”

Redmon elaborated that school staff members are increasing their vigilance when students do go outside.

“We will keep students in groups, and stay away from areas near campus where a cougar may be able to be concealed,” Redmon said.

While Stamper appreciates such safety measures, he also emphasized the relative rarity of such encounters.

“It’s not common for these animals to cause such problems, so people shouldn’t live in fear,” Stamper said.

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