Aggressive Cougar Killed, Dunn Forest Reopened

The cougar suspected of aggressively approaching a runner Saturday morning is dead, and Dunn Forest has been reopened.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, working with the  U.S. Department of Agriculture captured and killed the cougar Wednesday morning.

“We believe this aggressive cougar was captured and put down today,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW watershed manager, speaking to KVAL. “Cougars are territorial so few cougars will use the same area. The fact that the cougar was caught so close to the site of the encounter is another indication it is the correct cougar. Finally, the cougar killed fits the description provided by the runner.”

The female cougar weighed 75 pounds, and is thought to be between 1 and 2 years old. ODFW said she was not lactating, and was not nursing kittens. The OSU College of Veterinary Medicine will examine the cougar.

How the Cougar was Caught

“Specially trained hounds picked up the cougar’s scent about one-quarter mile from where the incident involving the runner and the cougar occurred,” ODFW said in a statement. “Trackers, working with hounds to follow the scent, tracked the cougar from Dunn Forest onto adjacent property where the cougar was treed after access permission was obtained by the landowner. The cougar fit the description provided by the runner, who said the cougar was narrow in build, but not emaciated. The cougar was shot at approximately 9:45 a.m.”

Cougar Encounter Dos & Don’ts

  • Stop, pick up small children immediately, and don’t run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack. Remember, at close range, a cougar’s instinct is to chase.
  • Face the cougar. Talk to it firmly while slowly backing away. Always leave the animal an escape route.
  • Try to appear larger than the cougar. Get above it on a rock or stump. If wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your apparent size. If you are in a group, stand shoulder-to-shoulder to appear intimidating.
  • Do not take your eyes off the cougar or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
  • Never approach the cougar, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens, and never offer it food.
  • If the cougar does not flee, be more assertive. If it shows signs of aggression (crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching, and hind feet pumping in preparation to jump), shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available (water bottle, book, or backpack). The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
  • If the cougar attacks, fight back. Be aggressive and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach, including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing—even bare hands. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake. Pepper spray in the cougar’s face is also effective in the extreme unlikelihood of a close encounter with a cougar.

Finally, According to the Mountain Lion Foundation there have been less than two dozen fatalities from cougars in the last 100 years. Putting that in perspective, the National Weather Service reports an average of 49 deaths by lightening strike per year. So, if you do encounter a cougar, they’re probably going to quickly run off, so when you’re done freaking out, appreciate you saw one in the wild.

By Andy Thompson