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OUTDOORS ROUNDUP: Cougar sightings close park ... N.D. cougar season on ... Deer, pronghorn seasons ... more

Cougar forces park closing With a cougar possibly on the prowl, Seattle's largest park remained off-limits to holiday weekend revelers as state wildlife agents tried to trap the elusive animal. On Friday, wildlife agents set a second trap while m...

Washington cougar
Bruce Richards, a Washington State Fish and Wildlife officer, prepares a cougar trap in Discovery Park in Seattle, Washington on Thursday, September 3, 2009. The park has been shut down due to "credible" cougar sightings. Shown is the back of the trap, showing the pink salmon and elk liver bait. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ken Lambert)

Cougar forces park closing

With a cougar possibly on the prowl, Seattle's largest park remained off-limits to holiday weekend revelers as state wildlife agents tried to trap the elusive animal.

On Friday, wildlife agents set a second trap while most people, including runners, picnickers and other nature-lovers, obeyed orders to stay out of the popular tree-filled urban retreat known for its spectacular views of Puget Sound.

In the past week, at least four people have made credible reports of cougar sightings in or near Discovery Park, a 534-acre preserve northwest of the city's downtown. The most recent was on Friday morning, by a man who said he saw a cougar in his driveway as he went out to pick up his newspaper, said Seattle parks spokeswoman Joelle Ligon.

Though no tracks have been found, possibly because of the warm and dry weather, and no pictures have been taken, officials closed the park Thursday as they tried to capture the animal.

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"We're getting closer and closer to catching this guy, and the less human presence we have, the better our chances of being able to reopen Discovery Park to the public," Ligon said.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife set the first trap Thursday, a cage covered with brush and ferns and baited with dead fish and elk liver. Authorities set a second one after park staff found a raccoon that had been attacked.

It wasn't immediately clear what killed the raccoon, said Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Kim Chandler, but it was a good enough lead to warrant setting another trap nearby.

Cougars -- also called mountain lions, pumas, panthers and catamounts -- more commonly attack pets and livestock than people. But a 5-year-old boy from British Columbia was mauled in the northeastern corner of Washington state on Wednesday, and other attacks have been reported in a few Western states, including Washington and Wyoming, in the past year. In June 2008, a cougar killed a 55-year-old man in New Mexico.

N.D. cougar season open

North Dakota's fifth mountain lion hunting season is under way. The season opened Friday with no changes from the 2008 season.

The state is split into two zones -- essentially the Badlands area and the rest of the state. The quota for Zone 1 is eight animals, the same as it was last year. There is no quota for Zone 2. All eight cats killed last season came out of the Badlands area.

Once the quota of eight animals is reached in Zone 1, the season will close immediately, which could be before the March 31 closing date. The eighth and final lion last year was killed Feb. 23.

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Deer, pronghorn seasons

North Dakota bowhunters are taking to the field.

The state's deer and pronghorn archery seasons open at noon. The pronghorn season runs through Oct. 4, while the deer season is open through next Jan. 3.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding hunters of a new tree stand regulation: Tree stands that are left unattended on state wildlife management areas need an ID tag with the owner's name, address and phone number.

Groups: Cut BWCA haze

Environmental groups want Minnesota to do more to reduce haze over the Boundary Waters and other national parks and wilderness areas in the state.

The groups are asking federal agencies to require the state to reduce haze.

They also asked Minnesota officials to require power plants and other pollution sources to update pollution controls and curb air emissions.

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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a draft of a haze reduction plan in July, but environmentalists said the plan doesn't do enough to limit emissions from coal-fired power plants and taconite processing facilities.

Groups include the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and conservation groups for Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters.

T. rex to be auctioned: Museums and high-rolling natural history buffs will get a crack at buying a fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex Oct. 8 at a Las Vegas Strip auction.

Experts said the 170 bones discovered about 17 years ago in South Dakota represent more than half the skeleton of a 40-foot-long, 7.5-ton dinosaur that lived 66 million years ago.

Related Topics: BADLANDSHUNTING
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