September 2, 2004 in Idaho

Three cougar kittens are cared for while their future determined

Associated Press
 

DUVALL, Wash. — Three 6-week-old cougar kittens are being fed and cared for by an animal welfare organization while questions about their future are decided.

The kittens were found Aug. 21 in the back yard of Steve and Shelia Schroeder’s home in this rural northeast King County town. The Schroeders took the little cougars to PAWS in Lynnwood the next day. There they are being fed by wildlife specialists working to prevent them from imprinting on humans.

A state Fish and Wildlife official said Wednesday he doubts the kittens belonged to a lactating female cougar killed in the area on Aug. 9 by a wildlife agent because the animal was killing chickens.

The little cougars were weak, dehydrated and hungry when they were found but would have been in much worse shape had they been left alone since the cougar was killed, Fish and Wildlife’s Capt. Bill Hebner said.

The kittens are being fed formula and some meat four times daily, said Kip Parker, PAWS wildlife director. They weighed 3 pounds each when found and now weigh 5 pounds each.

As for the future, “obviously, rehabilitation or some other nonlethal option is our preferred option,” Hebner said. “Euthanasia is our very, very last resort.”

A state decision on the kittens’ future is expected in about a week.

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