February 28, 2011

Nat’l Geographic interested in cougar photos

The Wenatchee World
Courtesy photo photo

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists confirm the authenticity of this remote camera photo made by Brad Thomas, a hunter in the Moses Coulee area of Douglas County on Dec. 23, 2010. Biologists say this shot and a minutes-later rare shot of eight cougars in one spot is likely the result of a female cougar with a litter converging with one of her adult female offspring and her litter. The Wenatchee man who collected the images is known to the state biologists, but asked to remain anonymous.
(Full-size photo)

CASHMERE — Cougar madness continues. Brad Thomas was still trying to process all the attention he was getting from his cougar photos when National Geographic magazine e-mailed him on Feb. 22.

“They said they wanted to look at my pictures,” Thomas said.

He was surprised, he said, but he wasn’t dancing for joy.

“I would feel that way if photography was my career and my goal, but I’m an accountant, so if I got an offer to work for a big accounting firm, then I would think I hit the big time,” Thomas said.

Thomas chuckles about all the hubbub surrounding the pictures he took, with a remote camera, of eight cougars congregating in Moses Coulee.

The photos, he said, “prove there’s a bunch of cats out there.”

Thomas took the photos in December, using a remote camera. They circulated among his friends over the Internet but made front-page headlines earlier this month in Wenatchee, Seattle and Spokane. Wildlife officials say the photos are rare glimpses into the lives of animals thought to be fairly solitary.

Thomas, operations manager at Liberty Orchards in Cashmere, is a hunter of bird, deer, elk and bear. But, he said, he set up the remote camera because he wanted to get pictures of a bobcat.

When he checked his camera in December, there were all the cougars, but not a single bobcat.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I never expected them because they are so elusive. I’ve seen several bobcats in the wild, but never a cougar.”

When newspapers picked up his photos, Thomas said, he figures he got what he calls his “15 seconds of fame.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s been a real conversation starter.”

Read the rest of the story at http://www.wenworld.com

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