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Mysterious large cat reported at Goss Lake

"Several eyewitnesses have reported seeing a big, cougar-like cat roaming around the Goss Lake area.Rob Teeter and his wife Terry saw the big cat on separate occasions, as did a total stranger to them -- Clinton resident Phyllis Rainey.Rob and Terry Teeter live in Sanctuary Lane, a dirt road on a hill above Goss Lake. He works for Physio-Control in Redmond as a regulatory affairs specialist. They have two young children, one doe goat for milk, and two baby goats. Presumably, the goats are what attracted the big cat to their property.One day in mid-June Rob Teeter was inside the house when he heard the goats stomping and snorting. He looked out and saw the hair on the goats' backs standing up, and they were all staring in the same direction -- to a bald spot of ground just outside the goat pen.Teeter walked outside toward the pen, and then stopped cold when he saw a large cat looking at him, standing only about 25 feet away. It was young, maybe 18 inches tall, 4 feet long, looking straight on, Teeter said. He described the cat's color as charcoal gray, with creamy white under the chin and on the belly, and with a white chevron-like design on the chest.He looked right at me. It was a pretty amazing experience, actually, Teeter said. The cat walked around the goat barn and sniffed inside, so Teeter decided to take action. I picked up a rock and threw it, and it ran into the bushes, he said. He never had a clear sideways view of the cat, but estimated it may have weighed 50 pounds.A couple of days later, on June 19, Phyllis Rainey was driving by the Teeter house, which sits on a hill a short way above Sanctuary Lane. She stopped her car when she saw a big cat standing in somebody's fenced-in yard.Teeter was looking down when he saw the cat, while Rainey was looking up. Perhaps that's why it appeared even larger to her -- the size of a German shepherd dog, only stockier and with longer legs.Rainey described the color as tawny brown underneath, with a blackish cast on top. I've never seen an animal with those colors, she said. But I saw its cat face, except it had rounded ears instead of pointed ears. I never could figure out what it was, but it was definitely a cat. She drove off, and only later remembered that she had a camera in her car.Rainey had been visiting a friend who lives near the Teeters. When the Teeters talked to their neighbor they told them what Rainey had seen, and they realized they had another eyewitness to their mysterious cat.Terry Teeter said that since the initial sightings, she saw the cat standing in tall grass about a week later. He was looking, and it looked like a big cat head to me, she said.Now, the Teeters don't allow their two children, ages 2 and 3, outdoors without one of their parents nearby.The Teeters and Rainey both called the State Patrol, who forwarded the sighting to Ralph Downes, one of Whidbey Island's two state Fish & Wildlife officers.Downes has investigated big cat sightings before, so he remains skeptical despite the recent eyewitness accounts. A few years ago in Clinton, he noted, two reported cougar sightings resulted in a panic as the schools sent out warning notices to parents. Many of the parents wouldn't let their kids walk home from the bus stop without an escort. I was getting cougar calls like crazy, he said. No big cat was ever found.People believe they see things, Downes said Thursday. Last year, Downes investigated reports of a cougar killing chickens at Double Bluff, but again, nothing was found.Downes did find it interesting that the Teeters have goats. Whidbey Island would be great cougar habitat. They love sheep and goats, he said.But Downes can't be convinced there is a cougar or some other big cat running loose. Not without proof. I would like to see a picture, he said.Terry Teeter would like nothing better herself. I've got my video camera ready, she said Friday."

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