Cougar sighting: Safety tips

October, 2017 Posted in Community

By Mary Owen

A cougar was spotted April 22 by a resident running on the wilderness trail next to Stayton Middle School.

According to Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the cougar was on the trail along with a fresh kill.

“This is not anything new,” said Rich Sebens, Stayton police chief. “The cougars travel through the area on a regular basis and have been doing so for the past several hundred years, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. We get several sightings of them every year, more so in the spring.”

Last October, a cougar was caught on a surveillance camera at a home on Melrose Street in Sublimity.

“The cougar appeared to be a young one, possibly a juvenile,” said Sr. Deputy Tom Barber, who covers Sublimity for MCSO.

Barber reported at the time that, in the surveillance photo, the cougar appeared to be on the resident’s front porch.

According to the ODFW, Oregon is home to more than 5,000 cougars or mountain lions and says while sightings and encounters are rare, learning about the big cats is wise.

If an encounter occurs, ODFW suggests the following: stay calm and stand your ground; maintain direct eye contact; leave the animal a way to escape; back away slowly; and don’t turn your back on the cougar. If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any items available.

The sheriff’s office recommends using caution. “If you see the cat, experts say you should stop, maintain eye contact, make yourself look larger, make loud noises and leave the area,” according to an MCSO press release.

Sebens suggest walking or running with a partner and avoid walking in the woods at night.

Anyone spotting a cougar in the vicinity should report the sighting to MCSO
and/or the local police department.

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