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ODFW says visitors, residents of Mount Hood area should be aware of 'healthy cougor population'

After a photographer reported a cougar sighting on Wednesday, Jan. 16, Oregon State Police (OSP) temporarily closed Snow Bunny Sliding Area Sno Park.

Operations at the area are now back to normal.

The woman who made the report was hiking on Mount Hood and believed she saw a cougar. This prompted biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to confer with OSP officers, and they visited the area to look for tracks confirming the presence of a cougar.

"They were unable to confirm," said Rick Swart, ODFW public information officer.

Mt. Hood National Forest put out signs cautioning visitors.

"There are no plans on our part to pursue a cougar," Swart added. "People from Sandy to Government Camp should recognize there's a healthy cougar population in the area."

A Gresham hiker, Diana Bober, was killed in a reported cougar attack last September, accounting for the first fatal cougar attack in Oregon.

The population of cougars in Oregon is around 6,000, according to ODFW's website. The densest populations of cougars inhabit the Blue Mountains and the southwestern Cascade Mountains.

"Generally speaking, the number one thing is being aware of your surroundings," said Kurt Licence, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in a previous interview. "I think just following those rules will really help people stay safe out there."

Coexisting with cougars

When going out into the wilderness people should:

  • Leave dogs at home or keep them on a leash.

  • Hike in groups and not alone

  • Keep children who are hiking close

  • Make a lot of noise to alert wildlife to your presence

  • Keep campsites clean

  • If you come across dead animals or prey that may attract cougars, avoid them

  • Don't hike at dawn or dusk when predators are most active.

  • Carry deterrent spray

  • Steer clear of wildlife children

    If you encounter a cougar, remember the following:

  • Allow the cat to retreat if it tries

  • Stand your ground calmly

  • Don't break eye contact

  • Don't run, but back away slowly

  • Make yourself large and make noise if the cat gets aggressive

  • Fight back if attacked

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