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School district aware of big cat sighting near Trillium Creek Primary and remaining vigilant.

GOOGLE MAPS - The cougar was sighted late Aug. 19 in the Hidden Springs area, not far from the green space between Trillium Creek Primary and TVF&R station 55. Around 11 p.m. Friday Aug. 19, a couple staying with family in West Linn's Hidden Springs area heard someone approach a window from the backyard. When Jeff, 31, flipped on the backyard lights, he saw not a person, but a cougar.

He said the cougar ran under the back deck before sitting beside his mother's bird bath. The cougar wrapped its tail around the base of the bird bath and stared at Jeff for about 30 seconds, until the security lights shut back off, and it ran away, Jeff recounted.

"It's a little disconcerting," said Jan, Jeff's mother whose backyard was where Jeff saw the cougar.

Jan's backyard backs up to a wooded area, not far from the greenspace between Trillium Creek Primary School and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Station 55.

She said she was worried for outdoor cats and dogs that may come across the big cat. Though cougars are typically active at night, she also expressed worry about school starting this week, with the grounds of Trillium Creek less than 500 feet away.

West Linn-Wilsonville School District Communications Director Andrew Kilstrom said a parent informed the district of the cougar sighting. According to Kilstrom, the district reached out to the West Linn Police Department, as is typical for such situations, but the police didn't instruct the district to take any specific action. The district would remain vigilant, Kilstrom said.

While the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has not received any recent reports of cougars in West Linn, ODFW biologist Steve Niemela said he wouldn't be shocked to hear of cougars in the area. "With the Willamette River corridor, the nice nature parks, it would not be surprising if we occasionally had a cougar poke its nose in the area," Niemala said

ODFW estimates there are around 6,000 cougars in Oregon, with the densest populations in the Blue Mountains and southwestern Cascades. However, of Oregon's six "cougar zones" mapped by the department — the area encompassing Portland, the Willamette Valley and parts of the coast — has seen the largest increase in cougar population over the past 10 years.

The area's growing population of urban deer, the cougar's primary source of food, make cougar sightings in the Portland Metro region more likely as well.

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