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Cougar seen in Deschutes River Canyon area – Public advised to avoid area

BEND, Ore. — An adult cougar has been spotted and confirmed to have been using the Deschutes River Canyon area within Bend city limits. It was sighted yesterday morning and again on a trail camera about 8:30 p.m. yesterday.

While the cougar is not considered an immediate human safety threat, ODFW and the Bend Police Department are advising people not to use the canyon or River Trail system upstream of Bill Healy Bridge. This area has been signed (PDF of sign) to let people know a cougar was seen and steps to take during a cougar encounter. People are advised to avoid using this area of the River Trail system upstream of the bridge as long as the signs remain in place, to reduce the risk of any encounter.

The cougar was spotted in the same general area as theone euthanized by wildlife managers in February for being a public safety threat. That adult male cougar had been actively hunting for several days in backyards, on city streets, in resort areas, and near human residences.

The cougar seen yesterday has not shown behaviors described in statute indicating it is a human safety threat. Under state statute 498.166, cougars are considered a public safety threat when they kill pets, act aggressively, or display loss of wariness of people by being seen repeatedly in daytime around permanent structures in areas of human activity.These criteria are further discussed in the state’s Cougar Management Plan.

“At this time, ODFW and Bend Police will just be monitoring the situation, and we hope the cougar will leave the city and the Deschutes River Canyon area on its own,” said Corey Heath, Bend districtwildlife biologist. “Should its behavior escalate, we will have to re-evaluatethe situation and our response.”

Additional trail cameras have been placed in the area to monitor for cougar activity, and representatives from the area housing subdivisions have been notified about the cougar sightings.

Residents of the area are encouraged to review Living with Cougar safety tips at ODFW’s webpage and take steps to reduce conflict,including feeding pets indoors and keeping them in at night. https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/cougars.asp.