Cougar Spotted in Richland Neighborhood - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Cougar Spotted in Richland Neighborhood

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RICHLAND, Wash. - NBC Right Now tracking the latest cougar sighting in the Mid-Columbia. It happened Thursday morning, putting a Richland neighborhood on high alert and a nearby school on lockdown.

People at a nearby retirement home say they saw a cougar around 8 a.m. near the intersection of Gage Blvd and Leslie Road.

After the first calls came in to 911, police alerted nearby Badger Mountain Elementary and school officials put the school on a temporary lockdown.

"Officers tried to set up between where the cougar was spotted and where the children were trying to complete their morning commute to school so they could take action if there was any type of threat presented to the kids," said Capt. Mike Cobb with the Richland Police Department.

Officers tried to make their way through the prickly brush with rifles to protect the area. Fish and wildlife arrived to assist police and assess the threat.

"The animal appeared to be moving eastward from the location where it was originally at and following the waterline, staying in really dense, heavy brush, which is pretty indicative of this type of animal and the behavior they would normally see," Cobb said.

A call from a second person who spotted the cougar further east toward Leslie Canyon confirmed the animal was moving away from people. Police left the area around 10 a.m. and lifted the school lockdown.

Students at Badger Mountain Elementary did not seem fazed.

"Several of our kids talked about seeing a cougar at the zoo and kind of how big they are, what color they are, how pretty they are, and they're like a cat," said Gail Ledbetter, the Principal at Badger Mountain Elementary school.