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Cougar in Kelso cancels middle school football game

KELSO, Wash. (KOIN)) — A cougar was spotted by two schools Thursday afternoon — prompting officials to cancel a football game and delay other activities.

Kelso School District said on Friday that the big cat was seen near Coweeman Middle School and Kelso High School around 3:30 p.m.

Kelso Police Department, with assistance from Washington State Fish and Wildlife, set up a perimeter from Brookhollow Mobile Home Park to Kelso High School to ensure the safety of students and residents. As a result, the middle school football game was canceled. Kelso High School activities were also delayed until the area was deemed safe.

Michele Larsen, the communications manager for the Kelso School District, told KOIN 6 News the cougar was spotted when the middle school football game was in progress.

“We canceled the game. Fish and Wildlife set up a perimeter drone but couldn’t find it,” she said, adding the cougar made no contact with humans.

As of Friday morning, the cougar has not been found.

Friday was an in-service day throughout Washington, so Larsen said the students were never scheduled to be in school this day. 

But the teachers “spent some time today and talked about cougar sightings, being aware of your surroundings, staying in groups.”

Cougars sightings are relatively common in the area, but school officials erred on the side of caution in canceling the game.

“When you have a bunch of kids outside at a football game, they’re walking around, they’re not always watching the game. It’s good to be extra cautious,” she said.

For now, things in Kelso remain scheduled — unless the cougar comes back. 

“We’ll take it day by day, but we hope parents use this opportunity to talk to their kids to pay attention to their surroundings and what to do should we see one,” Larsen said.

The school district added that “all outside classes, activities and athletics are implementing safeguards to maximize the safety of our children and staff members.”