"The Un Magazine"

Island-hopping cougars swim kilometres through icy water off US coast

Researchers were surprised when a young male cougar living in Washington state swam to a nearby island. They now suspect other local cougars are doing the same


23 February 2023

In the foreground, two cougar pawprints indent in the sand on a beach in the Pacific Northwest. In the distance, rocky sea stacks stand out in the ocean waves.

Tracks left behind by a cougar on a beach on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state


Some cougars in the Pacific Northwest may routinely brave frigid saltwater to reach islands. Based on an analysis of island cougar sightings, these cats may be swimming up to two kilometres to reach new territory, food and mates.

Many large felines are adept swimmers, though cougars (Puma concolor) – also referred to as pumas and mountain lions – tend to avoid the water. Still, there have been reports of the cats taking a dip. It’s even …

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