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Cops shoot 2 cougars at John Day park

Courtesy of www.bluemountaineagle.com

January 7, 2012

JOHN DAY – Authorities tracked and shot two cougars that were seen roaming the Seventh Street Complex in John Day on Friday afternoon.

The search began shortly after noon when residents reported seeing three cougars at or near the ballpark complex. One of the cats was shot at a dugout. A second cat was shot about four hours later, but the third had not been found as the search wrapped up in the evening.

Oregon State Police Master Sgt. Gordon Larson said the sighting was reported about 12:15 p.m. to 9-1-1. Shortly after the first report, another resident who lives next to the complex reported two cougars in his back yard.

State Police troopers from the John Day office responded and found one cougar near the ball field dugouts. Due to the close proximity to homes and people using the park, an OSP Fish & Wildlife Division trooper shot and killed the cougar.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Ryan Torland estimated the cougar weighed 25 – 30 pounds and appeared malnourished.

State Police, John Day Police, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, and ODFW officials searched for the other two reported cougars with the assistance of hound dogs. Police and ODFW officials found signs of two other cougars in the area consistent with reported sightings from citizens and searchers.

A second cougar, similar in size to the first cougar, was shot and killed in the area of the baseball complex at approximately 4:30 p.m. The third cougar was spotted but searchers have lost sight of it.

ODFW, OSP and local law enforcement urge area resident to contact 9-1-1 if they spot any cougars in the John Day area. Cougars seen repeatedly in daylight or around residences or other structures are considered human safety risks. Still, the risk of a cougar attack is very low and there has never been a confirmed cougar attack on a person in Oregon.

ODFW offers the following safety tips if you encounter a cougar:

* Cougars often will retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.

* Stay calm and stand your ground.

* Maintain direct eye contact.

* Pick up children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the cougar.

* Back away slowly.

* Do not run. Running triggers a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.

* Raise your voice and speak firmly.

* If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.

* If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any items available.