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Shortly before noon on Jan. 25, 2020, Brian Ostenson called the sheriff ’s office in Goldendale, WA, to report he’d found a deer carcass near a tree about 30 yards from his house. The carcass wasn’t there yesterday, said Ostenson, a man in his early 70s who lives about 14 miles east of town in a sparsely populated rural area that has a mix of open fields and wooded streams. Ostenson told Deputy Sheriff Erik Beasley that even though he hadn’t seen cougars in the area, he believed one had killed the deer. The deer was partially buried beneath forest debris, which is how cougars, also known as mountain lions or pumas, often hide their kills so they can feed on them again later.

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