Cougar in the Woods | Letters to the Editor | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Cougar in the Woods

Be prepared to meet a cougar face to face.

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There is a cougar in Deschutes River Woods, maybe two, trying to make a living. DRW has a significant population of prey species making it good pickings for a large cat. Cougars have been hunting in the area for millennia.

Cougars are generally solitary animals, shy of human activities, and deathly afraid of dogs.  They use stealth and cunning to acquire their food. When a cougar invades a residential area, most likely it has not yet learned to avoid humans and dogs. Which would indicate it is young and immature.  If two cougars a traveling together they are most likely siblings recently run out of their mother’s territory.

The cougar(s) in question will have to learn to vacate the neighborhood.  Making DRW an inhospitable place for these prowlers can be done using various methods.  The most important thing is not to provide an invitation.  If you have pets or domestic animals, make sure you know where they are. Do not leave them out at night where they can become prey. Tethering small dogs in your yard is like baiting a shark. Domestic cats on the prowl at night will have to take their chances. If your dog alerts you, pay attention. Roaming dogs may go after a cougar with less than desirable results. And by all means, Keep small children supervised.

The current situation in DRW is being monitored by multiple agencies to include the sheriff’s department, ODFW, and a USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services specialist on location. If you see these animals or have something significant to report please call the Sheriff’s Department.  So far these animals have not crossed the line.  If you take it upon yourself to take this cougar, you may be subject to multiple citations—one for discharging a weapon in a restricted area, and another for killing or harming a protecting species.  The burden of proof for legal provocation will be on you.

The local media may not have it right as to the status of the current process to eliminate any potential danger to our neighborhood.  A more detailed report is expected soon.  If you encounter a cougar, try to remain calm.  Make yourself as formidable as possible. Be loud, be mad, look and act like a threat to a cougar.  Never turn you back on a cougar since cats usually attack from behind.  Maintain eye contact.  Never corner a cougar or take away its avenue of escape.  Only let your dog attack if you have no other choice. A loyal dog will defend you to the death. Don’t lose you dog for no reason. The best actions to rid our neighborhood of large predators, is to be un-neighborly.  When a cougar knows he is not welcome in the hood, and DRW could be hazardous to its health, it will vacate.

Bottom line:  We live next to a national forest.  Cougars have been there a very, very long time.  Take adequate precautions.  Be prepared to meet a cougar face to face. Do not provide an invitation for a visit. (i.e. feeding deer)  Let the professionals do their job.  Promptly report pertinent information to the sheriff’s office.

– William Palmese

Editor’s note: Authorities trapped and killed the cougar in question last Friday after previously announcing that deputies had shot and possibly wounded the animal.

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