An Olympic National Park ranger had a close encounter with a bobcat after both of them went looking for spawning salmon last week.
She has the video to prove it.
Ranger Lee Snook is an admitted pencil pusher. As chief of interpretation and education at the park she oversees staff and manages visitor centers, among other duties.
The Port Angeles-based ranger was visiting new staff at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center on Dec. 5 when she decided to take a break from meetings.
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“I wanted to get pictures of the snow and salmon,” Snook said. “I’m brand new to the park and I’ve never seen that.”
Armed only with a camera phone, she took a walk on the Spruce Nature Trail. She paused at a bridge.
“I was looking for fish and something caught my eye,” Snook recalled. “It was a bobcat staring at me from across the river.”
After a moment of inspection, the bobcat returned to the fish.
“She was there for the same reason as I was,” Snook said.
The ranger shot video of the cat perched on a log, tracking a sockeye salmon in the creek, wrestling with the fish and finally carrying it away.
“It’s as big as she is,” Snook said of fish and cat.
She figures she watched the cat for 30 minutes. The cat didn’t seem to mind.
“I wasn’t being aggressive. I just stood there and watched,” she said.
The rangers who work at Hoh were aware of the bobcat but had only seen glimpses of the normally shy cat.
“They were just in awe,” Snook said of her colleagues. “I was told just how lucky I was to have experienced that.”
Snook said the offseason is a great time to visit the park. Fewer people means seldom-seen animals are more likely to be out.
“Take a minute to slow down, take a look around,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to find.”
After posting on the park’s Facebook page, the video has had more than 2 million views.