Tag Archives: cougar

No Sign Of Hiker-killing Cougar On Search Day 1; ODFW Asks For Locals’ Recent Trail Cam Pics

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

No cougar scent or sign was detected today by trackers in the field near the site where a cougar is believed to have killed Mt. Hood hiker Diana Bober.

USDA WILDLIFE SERVICES STAFFERS USED MULES TO BEGIN THE SEARCH FOR A COUGAR THAT KILLED A HIKER EAST OF PORTLAND. (USFS VIA ODFW)

The search began off the Hunchback Mountain Trailhead around 6:30 a.m. Two USDA Wildlife Services personnel rode mules for about 9 miles accompanied by four dogs trained to pick up cougar scent. No scent or other recent cougar sign (tracks, scat, scratches) was detected in the area. Searchers also saw very few signs of cougar’s prey like deer.

“It’s very important that we started our search at the site where Diana was found,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW watershed manager who is leading the capture effort. “The cougar wasn’t there. Tomorrow we will expand our search into a new area.”

In addition, ODFW and other personnel are working to place more trail cameras into remote areas. They also encourage any local residents (ZigZag-Welches-Rhododendron area) with recent trail camera images of cougars (within past four weeks) or cougar sightings to contact ODFW’s Clackamas office at (971) 673-6000.

Yesterday’s efforts to set up a communications system that would work in the rugged area served the operations effort well, and searchers in remote areas have radio contact with ODFW and other state, federal and local personnel on the ground (Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, OSP Fish and Wildlife).

Also today, U.S. Forest Service announced a closure to protect public safety and to allow for search and capture operations to continue with minimal disturbance from people, which could compromise search efforts. See the Mt Hood National Forest website for more information.

Yesterday during a press conference, Wolfer discussed home range sizes for cougars. ODFW’s most recent data for cougars occupying similar habitat in the coast range support the information provided about home range sizes with male cougars having a home range averaging 123 square miles, and adult females averaging 22.5 square miles. It is not known if the cougar that killed Diana was a male or female.

“This is big country,” said Wolfer. “The search may take some time and will be a fluid situation. We’ll continue to adjust our operation as necessary.”

Tomorrow morning, crews will start to expand the search area but stay within a typical cougar home range distance of where Diana was attacked.

ODFW will provide an online update tomorrow afternoon after the search has concluded for the day or when there is new information to share.

Oregon Woman Killed By Cougar

State and county officials say that an Oregon woman who had not been seen since late August and was reported missing last Friday was most likely killed by a cougar.

The body of Diana Bober of Gresham was discovered off a trail southwest of Mt. Hood yesterday and an autopsy was performed today.

(FACEBOOK)

“Every indication is that a cougar is responsible,” ODFW wildlife biologist Brian Wolfer said during a press conference with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office that was streamed live over Facebook this afternoon.

DNA has been flown to the USFWS forensic lab in Ashland for testing.

Wolfer said it was a “tragic and unprecedented event,” and is believed to be the first in state history that resulted in the loss of a human life.

It’s also the second fatal mountain lion attack in the Northwest just this year.

The other occurred near North Bend, Washington, where a bicyclist was taken down and their riding partner was also attacked.

That animal was immediately tracked down and killed and initially reported as underweight, but a Washington State University lab found “no abnormalities” in its condition that would have led to the attack.

“We don’t believe that the threat to the public that is posed by cougars is any greater today than it was yesterday,” said Wolfer. “However, we don’t know and can’t quantify the threat that this particular animal may pose to the public. And so we’re making every effort along with our partner agencies to locate this animal so we can assure the safety of the public.”

The Hunchback Trail, where the attack occurred, has been closed for the time being.

Advice for dealing with a cougar encounter bears repeating. Per WDFW:

  1. Stop, stand tall and don’t run. Pick up small children. Don’t run. A cougar’s instinct is to chase.

  2. Do not approach the animal, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens.

  3. Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.

  4. If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.

  5. If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back.

Encounter With A Cougar

An Eastern Oregon bowhunter comes face to face with a lion during last year’s elk season.

By Dan Lyons

There is no way Dad is ever going to find me. If he can even make it up the steep, rugged ridge, it would surely take a host of others to find me, or my body. I hate that he will have a helpless feeling when I don’t respond to him hailing me on my handheld radio. He will be scared when I don’t show up at the truck and don’t come out of the woods.

My kids and my wife – he will have to call them and tell them I didn’t show up. They will be devastated. My friends, and hunting buddies too. They would all feel the pain that always accompanies loss and tragedy. So here I am, deciding at this instant between fight or flight, and having no idea of the outcome of either.

(TIM LAMBERT)

I’VE HUNTED AND been very passionate about it since I was 12. I love everything about hunting, though truth be known, I am not very good at it. I have killed a handful of decent mule deer bucks, a couple whitetail bucks and have a raghorn bull to my credit. Besides a muley that I paid big bucks for through an outfitter in Montana I have had very average success here in the great state of Oregon. Maybe my lack of success is due to the fact that I like the cold beer, the campfire, the relationships with my hunting buddies and the stories as much as I like the actual hunting.

Because it’s hard as hell to draw a good deer or elk tag in my state without waiting five years between opportunities, I figured it was time to try archery hunting. Most units in Oregon don’t require a draw for a bow tag, so you can buy both a deer and an elk tag over the counter. This is probably due to the fact that killing an animal with a bow and arrow is flat out hard. Despite the texts I receive each fall from smiling hunters holding up their bulls, the many stories I hear, and the videos that make it all look easy, it seems the cards are stacked against us trying to outsmart and outduel a cagey bull with a bow. Still, with no rifle tags on the horizon I decided to go for it and give archery hunting a try.

With no rifle tags on the horizon I decided to go for it and give archery hunting a try.

I basically broke the internet doing my research. I went into discussion forums, watched every YouTube video ever made and bought every Primos and Eastman’s hunting DVD in existence. I bought some calls, sprayed some elk piss on my boots, and was ready to rock.

My father has archery hunted for 25 years and although he’s come close many times, he has never been able to close the deal on a bull. But for sure, even at 73 he was fired up to get out there with me. He is the single best person I know and any time spent with him is a good time. Typically, I rifle hunt with six of my lifelong friends, so this trip had a different feel from the beginning, and I liked it. The plan was to leave Portland on Wednesday at noon, get over there, and hunt Thursday through Sunday and then get back to work and the family. A rancher friend rents a bunkhouse near our hunting area, so we hit the easy button and spent the $100 per night to not have to deal with a camp.

IT ALWAYS TICKS me off that most hunting articles never tell you where the author was, so I will tell you. We were hunting in Eastern Oregon, north of the town of John Day at the northern end of the Northside Unit and just south of the Middle Fork of the John Day River. This all went down on Sept. 15, 2017.

Thursday started and ended with results that I’ve become accustomed to. I walked for what felt like 10 miles over large mountains, through beautiful draws, and across what appeared to be perfect elk country, but besides a few does and fawns, we drove back to the ranch without seeing or hearing a single elk. I thought this time of year they bugled like crazy and all you had to do was locate, stalk, and get ’er done. I had, and have much to learn. A touch of whiskey, some great conversation and an early bedtime closed down Thursday and we were stoked to try a new area in the morning that I just knew, for sure, would hold some elk.

There was frost on Friday and it was flat out cold. After a long hot summer, it felt like the first touch of fall. My research had told me that when the temperature starts dropping, these cold mornings really fire the bulls up, so I was eager to get into the woods. They were going to be bugling, fighting, and chasing cows, making it way too easy for us. I was where I wanted to be, at the time I wanted to be there.

A slow, steady, and quiet hunt coupled with a few perfectly executed cow calls on my Hoochie Mama resulted in zero elk seen and zero elk heard, and from what I could tell, there had never been an elk in this area, ever. The only excitement came when a grouse flushed up 5 feet from me, which resulted in only a minor heart attack. Otherwise, it was back to the truck to regroup for an afternoon hunt.

Although still in decent shape, Dad is perfectly satisfied driving the truck around as the pick-up man, maybe walking up the draw and patiently waiting for his opportunity, and he is not beyond a midday nap. After a lifetime of hunting and experience, his passion for killing a bull has waned, but his passion for being out there and being with his son are still on point.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON BROUGHT some wind and some smoke began settling in the valley from a host of wildfires across the state. After seeing a few other hunters in the area, I figured it was time to go to my secret spot, one I was confident no other hunter possessed the required grit needed to get there. Although a difficult hunt that required a straight-up assault of a mountain, the top offered a thicket that I had actually seen elk in before. Of course, that was during deer season, but there had been a good bull in that group, so I figured this mountaintop thicket was what they were calling home. It was on.

I loaded my fanny pack and lined Dad out as to where I would be coming out. I told him I would check in on the radio when I got up there and that it would take three to four hours before I was out. He asked if I wanted to take the .380 pistol to scare off bears and cougars and, because I am a genius, I said no. “I don’t want that extra weight,” I thought.

The mountain was no match for me as my excitement and adrenaline got me to the top. I sat for about 15 minutes, sipped some water, and got myself rested and calm to still-hunt this perfect piece of country and stake my claim on a 330-inch-class bull with a whale tail, huge eye guards and massive antlers that reached to the sky. My cow call was going to be too much for him to resist and I imagined him running in and offering me a perfect broadside shot at 20 yards. In my new camo, although way too small for me, I blended into the landscape better even than the trees and bushes. My dreams were about to come true.

When the temperature starts dropping, these cold mornings really fire the bulls up, so I was eager to get into the woods.

It was hot and hard to be quiet. At 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, I don’t think I was exactly walking without sound, but I entered the thicket and tiptoed toward my destiny. The trees swayed with the wind now and there was just enough smoke to slightly alter the air and visibility. I snuck into some windfalls. A few game trails crisscrossed the area and I could see a good 30 yards into this elky-looking patch of earth – a perfect spot to sit, work my cow call, and wait. It was playing out exactly as it had in my mind a million times. I backed into a bush, sat down, and blended in perfectly. I nocked an arrow and let the cow call sing its song and bring in my bull. On all the videos I’d watched, the bulls just came rolling in to the hunter, all the while signalling their excitement with loud shrieks of intent.

Nothing. No retorts to my cow call, no snapping of limbs from an approaching bull, no bugles. Nothing but the wind and the eerie calm of this elkless thicket. Thirty minutes was enough, or at least all that I could handle, so I moved my eyes right and carefully scanned my view to see if I could catch a bull sneaking in before I moved on. I scanned center, down in front of me, and slowly scanned left. This is when it all got very real, and it got real quick.

TO MY DIRECT left on the same trail I had walked up and at what I estimate to be 25 to 30 feet sat a cougar, or mountain lion. Whatever you choose to call it, I noticed this one was an adult, it was large, and it scared the absolute sh*t out of me. I’d seen prints, once, but never in my 44 years had I seen a cougar, and now one was standing a pounce away. I was in his domain and from the first instant I knew that he was in control.

Yet for the time being it had no idea I was there. It was sitting like a Labrador with his butt on the ground and both front feet planted firm out in front of him. He was broadside to me and had his eyes fixed up the draw. He no doubt smelled me, or had heard my incredible cow calling skills, or maybe he was out for an afternoon stroll, but either way he was right there and for a few seconds I was frozen. If he turned and continued on his trail, he would run directly into me. Time to make a choice. Only a decent-sized windfall separated us.

With a cougar tag in my wallet I drew my bow back, but because I was sitting, I couldn’t get high enough over the log or one of its large branches that separated me and Mr. Cougar. No shot. It was time to stand and see how this tale would unfold. My eyes didn’t leave the cat as I started to stand. I believed that when I stood he would see me and hightail it out of there and go back to being a ghost.

This is not what he did.

I stood, he squared me up and dropped down, with his belly hugging the ground and his chin maybe an inch off the ground. His eyes were green and they stared right at me. Besides his oddly twitching tail he was perfectly still. To me, he was ready to do what cougars do, which is pounce, grab, bite, rip and kill. It was a good old-fashioned stare-off for 10 seconds and I made the decision that it was time for me to take action versus wait and let him make the first move, which, in my mind meant him ripping my jugular vein out and dragging me to his lair. He was not leaving, he was not scared, and with one pounce I would be dealing with 150 pounds of asskicker and I didn’t see that ending well for me.

I drew my bow back and held the 20-yard pin below his chin. Without a 10-yard pin I had to guess more than I would have liked and due to a slight angle down to him, my only shot was his face or neck. While I want to believe I was holding steady I doubt that was the case. When I squeezed my release, the arrow left the bow and immediately the cat raised his body very slightly. He raised his right front paw and the arrow snuck under his right foot, under his body and skipped safely past his back legs with no contact. A clean miss.

Now I was in trouble.

He took three stealthy steps toward me, his chin still an inch off the ground. While his tail twitched maniacally, I recall very clearly that his body flat out did not move. Rather, this thing floated up the trail toward me, stealthy, quiet, and in control. He was ready to go and he appeared to me ready to kill.

I figured this mountaintop thicket was what they were calling home. It was on.

He took those three steps and stopped. He tucked his ears back, showed me his teeth and hissed like a house cat. He was fierce. It’s important to note that while I am calling him a he, I have no earthly clue if he was a he or a she. Either way, for the first time ever in my life I was scared. I assessed the situation quickly. I was 8 feet away from this son of a gun, holding a bow with no arrow, and absolutely nothing else to fend off this apex critter. With my options limited, I accepted the fact that I was going to, simply put, fist fight a cougar. The odds weren’t good, to say the least.

If I was going down, I was going down fighting, so I yanked an arrow from the quiver and held it in my hand. If he pounced, I could stab the arrow into him and then scream, kick, bite, punch, spit – whatever I could to make him not end me.

He held his ground, which bought me some time. I waved my arms. I yelled, “Get out of here!” three times. He didn’t twitch or move an inch. I pulled my mesh camo mask down from my face so he could see my eyes. He took another slight step toward me. As he showed me his teeth, I remember thinking, “I wonder what he last ate with those things?”

I nocked the arrow and was prepared to pull it back and get one into him on his advance. I just didn’t want to shoot again at this close range because if he pulled his Matrix trick again and dodged my arrow a second time, I felt he would for sure have no choice but to attack. I waited, and I stared back at him, ready for his pounce, and ready for a fight.

I DECIDED TO take a small step backwards. He returned the favor by taking one stealthy step toward me. I took another step back and he obliged again. I knew he was keeping me within a one-pounce distance. I took a third and arrived at a large pine tree. I stepped behind it quickly and peeked around it like you might when playing hide-and-go-seek and he remained in that position, ready to go. I got behind the tree to where he couldn’t see me and hoped like hell he would forget about me. I waited and carefully peered around the tree again. Still there.

I got behind the tree at an angle that he couldn’t see me, then backed up to try to create some space. I picked up a good 10 yards and then looked back toward my new friend. Still there, but now he was standing and no longer in that godforsaken horrible killer pouncing position. I continued to back up and was thankful I could create some space between us.

The angle I’d chosen didn’t allow him to see me, so I decided my time to fight was over and it was time for flight. I put my arrow back in the quiver, turned the other direction, and ran as fast as I possibly could up the trail. I had no idea at the time that the absolute last thing you do when you see a cougar is run. I jumped logs and sprinted uphill, and kept looking over my shoulder, sure he was chasing me. I got a decent distance away and stopped, turned around and again prepared to fight. Back down the trail the cougar was still there, staring at me, standing calmly. I imagine he was laughing at me; my heart was racing at 787 beats per minute, but I could tell his was not. I renocked an arrow. He flicked his huge tail twice, turned to his left and bounded down the canyon, away from me and into the abyss of my thicket. I noticed that his first bound was much longer than the distance that had separated us just moments earlier.

As he showed me his teeth, I remember thinking, “I wonder what he last ate with those things?”

With adrenaline still pouring through me I regrouped and again ran as fast as I could up the trail to the top of the mountain, where it opened up. I might have set a land speed record while doing so, but I remember clearly that I was not tired. My lungs did not burn. I was focused and I was acutely aware of my surroundings. Adrenaline had taken over and offered me some juice I had surely never felt before. I now believe the stories of mothers lifting cars to save their children. There is within us a superhuman element that, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t ever need to experience again.

ONCE I CALMED down and came off the adrenaline rush, I was shaking very badly. I don’t know if I was in shock, or just scared out of my mind, but I remember having to kind of wrap my arms around myself to stop the shaking. I gathered myself and called Dad on the radio.

“How about it, Dad, you down there?”

“Hey Dannyboy! You bet, just having a cold beer, and I found some cool rocks out for a walk.”

“Awesome, Dad, I will be down there in about 20.”

“Sounds good, son, I will have a cold beer waiting for you”

“Copy that, see you in a few”

As I stepped out of the woods he immediately asked, “What the hell happened to you?”

I guess my skin coloring was still somewhere back in my thicket.

We cracked a cold one and sat on the tailgate and I told him every detail of my story. In a way that only a father can, he made me feel comfortable, safe, and he calmed me down without even really trying. Since that day we have talked about it a few times and I can tell it bothered him. I just cannot imagine the pain it would have caused him if that son of a gun had attacked me. I am thankful for Dad every day and thankful for what he has taught me about hunting, and life.

I had no idea at the time that the absolute last thing you do when you see a cougar is run.

When I got home I sat my family down and told the story. My 11- and 9-year-olds were on the edge of their seat. It upset my daughter and my son is still pissed that I missed the one shot I had at the cougar. My wife was also scared, and appropriately did find some humor in it.

A quick google search told me that there has never been a reported cougar attack of a human in Oregon. The article said if you see one in the wild, you should look big, show it your eyes, and yell at it. It went on to say that no matter what, never run. Oops.

In the end it was an experience I guess I am thankful for. It is a hell of a story, one I will tell forever, and I did feel something I have never felt before. Was that cougar really going to attack me? I thought so, but maybe I just surprised him the same way he surprised me. The truth of the matter is, I will hunt that thicket again and I can’t wait to get back in there. When I do, I can promise you just a few things. First and foremost, I will be carrying my 7mm Mag and not a damn bow and arrow, and second, if I do get lucky enough to see a cougar again, I won’t run! NS

‘No Abnormalities’ Found In Exam Of Bicyclist-attacking Cougar

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

A report by Washington State University (WSU) about the examination of the carcass of the cougar believed to be involved in the death of a bicyclist this spring near North Bend revealed no abnormalities that might have contributed to the animal’s unusual behavior, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said today.

The report by the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at WSU in Pullman was released today in response to public disclosure requests. The report is available on WDFW’s website athttps://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/jul1618a.pdf.

Dr. Kristin Mansfield, WDFW wildlife veterinarian, said the examination produced no significant findings to indicate why the cougar attacked the bicyclist and a companion on May 19.

She said wildlife managers are “highly confident” that the cougar was involved in the incident, because it was found so close to the attack site and because of the relatively low density of cougars in Washington. However, WDFW is awaiting the results of DNA analysis to confirm that conclusion. Those results are expected within the next month, she said.

Mansfield said the cougar was estimated to be about 3 years old. The animal was lean, but its weight and body condition fall within a normal range for a cougar of its age. She said the examination found no indication of rabies or other diseases that would pose a risk to humans.

No Room At The Dalles Hotel For Cougar

THE FOLLOWING IS AN OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE

A two-year-old male cougar that travelled all the way into downtown The Dalles and into a hotel complex was euthanized today after wildlife managers determined it was a public safety risk.

At 9:30 a.m. today, City of The Dalles Police responded to an incident at the Oregon Motor Motel downtown after reports of a wild animal within the complex. The animal was in a room under construction down a narrow walkway.

ODFW arrived at the scene at 9:45 a.m. The cougar was secured in a small room and ODFW was able to access the room through a vent in the wall. Staff sedated the animal with drugs administered via dart gun, and then transported the cougar off-site and euthanized it in a safe location.

The cougar had been spotted at this same location on March 18 in the evening, according to a Facebook post seen by ODFW staff.

Cougar sightings are not uncommon in the outskirts of The Dalles, especially this time of year when deer are on winter range just outside the city. “But a cougar coming this far into downtown, into the business district and deep into a hotel complex, and not showing fear of people or wariness of urban environments? That’s just extremely odd,” said Jeremy Thompson, ODFW district wildlife biologist. “This may have been a cougar that was unable to establish its own home range in its natural habitat.”

“Considering this cougar’s concerning behavior, it was deemed a public safety risk not suitable for relocation, and so it was euthanized,” said Thompson.

According to ODFW’s current records, today’s incident marks the sixth time in 2018 that a cougar has been euthanized due to public safety concerns. (A Silverton cougar was euthanized over the weekend.)

Under the state’s cougar management policy and state statutes, specific behaviors indicate that a cougar is a public safety risk. Those behaviors include attempting to break into a residence/structure and showing loss of wariness of humans.

ODFW does not relocate cougars that display these behaviors or cause agricultural damage. Cougars that have shown these behaviors and are relocated are likely to return to where they were causing problems in the first place and repeat the same behaviors, or repeat them in their new habitat. Further, because cougars are territorial, relocating cougars to new habitat can lead to conflict with other already established cougars, resulting in an animal’s injury or death.

Oregon has a healthy cougar population of approximately 6,400 statewide, up from just 200 in the 1960s when they were reclassified as a game mammal and protected in Oregon. Cougars, especially males, are extremely territorial. The need of some cougars to establish a home range could be driving them into urban and suburban areas.

For more information on cougars, including tips for coexisting, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/cougars.asp

Wildlife Biologists ‘Gobsmacked’ By Size Of Northeast Washington Cougar

Wildlife biologists captured a huge cougar in Northeast Washington earlier this week.

BIOLOGISTS BART GEORGE AND BRIAN KERTSON POSE WITH THE TOM, WHICH WAS CAPTURED NORTH OF CHEWELAH EARLIER THIS WEEK. FOR REFERENCE, KERTSON IS SIX-FOOT-2 AND WEIGHS 250-PLUS POUNDS. (BRIAN KERTSON)

The 197-pound, 9-year-old male was tracked down, darted and collared for a research project studying how predators and prey, as well as wolves and lions, interact across the game-rich northern tier of the eastern half of the state.

(WDFW)

“He looked big in the tree. But it wasn’t until we had him on the ground that we were gobsmacked,” WDFW biologist Brian Kertson told outdoor reporter Eli Francovich of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “We knew we had a monster but when we weighed him that’s when we just sort of went, ‘Wow.’ ”

Kertson told the scribe that as far as he knows it may have been the largest ever captured in Washington.

THE BIG TOM GLARES DOWN FROM THE GRAND FIR IT WAS TREED IN. (WDFW)

Kalispel Tribe wildlife biologist Bart George told Francovich it primarily dines on elk.

(WDFW)

According to WDFW, the average tom is 140 pounds, with a range of 120 to 190 pounds.

(WDFW)

Rising Cougar Numbers In Oregon Coast Range Spurs Alsea WMU Research Project

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

A few decades ago, cougars in the coast range were practically unheard of. But as Oregon’s healthy cougar population has expanded into northwest Oregon from population strongholds in the Blue Mountains and south Cascades, ODFW is observing  more cougar harvest, sightings and damage complaints along the coast.

(ODFW)

Researchers have studied cougar home range sizes, population densities and diet  in the Cascades and eastern Oregon, but not along the coast. A new study aims to change that through a research effort that will collar 10 adult cougars in  the Alsea Wildlife Management Unit, which includes parts of Lincoln and Benton counties.

ODFW will work with volunteer agents who have hounds to tree cougars in the study area so ODFW can immobilize them, take samples including blood and DNA, and get them fitted with a GPS collar. Location data collected from the collars will be used to calculate home range size and habitat selection.

Like similar research in other parts of the state, the study will also use scat detection dogs to refine a cougar population estimate for the unit and to analyze their diet. The scat provides DNA data used in capture-recapture models that estimate population size and density. The diet analysis provides important information on what percent of common prey items (deer, elk or small mammal) are making up area cougars’ diets.

Collaring of the cougars will begin this month and  will continue until 10 adults are collared or April 1, 2019.  Once a cougar is collared the GPS unit will collect location data for 17 months.

It is legal to harvest a collared cougar but ODFW prefers that hunters not shoot a cougar with a collar if possible. Hunters who do will need to contact ODFW and return the collar so the data can be retrieved and the collar reused, plus complete the normal check-in process that is required whenever a hunter takes a cougar or bear in Oregon.

“Better  data means better science based management decisions, and this data will help refine our cougar population estimates for this region,” says Jason Kirchner, district wildlife biologist in Newport. “This research will help ODFW manage for a viable population of cougars and assess effects on their prey populations, so we can improve management and conservation decisions for both cougars and ungulate species on the coast.”

Oregon’s statewide cougar population is estimated at 6,400. The Alsea Unit is part of Zone A, the Coast/North Cascades Zone, which has an estimated population of 950 cougars of all age classes.

The research is being funded through federal grants from the Wildlife Restoration Act and donations from Oregon Wildlife Foundation and the Oregon Hunters Association.