SALEM, Ore. — OSP and ODFW are asking La Pine area residents to be aware of cougars causing public safety issues in and around town. USDA Wildlife Services and ODFW are currently tracking at least one cougar after its sighting at Corner Store in La Pine this morning.
Two pets (one dog and one cat) and 12 chickens have been killed by cougars in the area recently. ;On Saturday, an additional pet dog was attacked by a cougar. The Deschutes County Sheriff shot and killed that cougar under a deck. On Monday, ODFW/Wildlife Services killed three cougars (one adult female and two yearlings). A third yearling cougar escaped and may be the one seen at the La Pine Corner Store this morning.
In the last week, ODFW had also received several complaints about cougars attacking and killing pets and being seen during daytime in the La Pine area. USDA Wildlife Services and ODFW are finding cougar tracks on house decks and in backyards.
By law, cougars are considered human safety risks when they attack pets, act aggressively, or are seen repeatedly during daylight hours in residential areas. Wildlife managers will not relocate these cougars because they simply cause problems in new areas or return to where the original problem occurred. Cougars considered human safety risks are killed to stop future conflicts.
The deep snow central Oregon is experiencing is likely playing a role in this situation. “The cougars are having trouble hunting their traditional prey so are coming to residential areas for an easier meal,” said Corey Heath, ODFW wildlife district biologist. “Unfortunately at this point we consider them a significant human safety risk, so they need to be removed for the safety of La Pine residents.”
In addition, ODFW asks residents not to feed deer and elk by putting out hay, wheat, alfalfa or other food. Artificial feeding concentrates deer and elk unnaturally and may also attract cougars that prey on deer and elk near feed sites. It can also make deer and elk sick, as their digestive systems have already adjusted to lower quality forage available during winter and they cannot digest this higher-protein food.
Area residents are encouraged to take steps to protect their pets. Please feed your pets indoors and walk your dog on a leash. Be aware of your surroundings, especially at dawn and dusk. More tips available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/cougars.asp
There has never been an attack by a wild cougar on a person in Oregon, though it has occurred in other states and Canadian provinces. Oregon wildlife managers respond to human safety issues like the one that is happening in La Pine to keep cougar conflicts minimized.
Oregon is home to approximately 6,300 cougars.