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Bend police shoot, kill cougar on Pilot Butte


A Bend police officer shot and killed a large male cougar spotted Saturday evening near the summit of Pilot Butte, about 15 yards above the road to the summit of the popular landmark and recreation spot in northeast Bend, officers said.

It’s apparently the first such incident at Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint, though there have been cougar sightings in the area previously, some near the middle school located on north flank of the nearly 500-foot-tall cinder cone.

Hundreds of people hike the butte each day, many to take in the vistas from the viewpoint from atop the brush- and tree-covered peak.

Police Lt. Nick Parker said a citizen reported about 6:45 p.m. observing a cougar near the top of the butte, above the city water towers, laying about 15 yards above the paved road that spirals to the top.

Police soon found the cougar in the area and began evacuating numerous park visitors over concern for their safety.

About 7:35 p.m., “the cougar was shot and killed due to the danger it posed to the community,” Parker said.

“This is a difficult situation the department took very seriously,” the lieutenant said in a news release.

Parker noted that police have personnel trained to fire tranquilizer darts to subdue canines as a less-than-lethal option, and said that was considered as an alternative to destroying the cougar.

“However,” he added, “a tranquilizer dart can take up to 15 minutes to take effect on an animal and can create an even more dangerous situation in an uncontained area.”

“The department’s primary objective is always to provide a safe community,” Parker added.

It was the second cougar sighting and killing by authorities within the Bend city limits in just over two months.

On Jan. 30, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife first tranquilized, then killed a 110-pound, 2 1/2-year-old male cougar found lounging in a tree above a southeast Bend home, prompting an outcry from those who said it should have been relocated to a rural area or sanctuary.

But ODFW biologists stood by their decision, saying the risk is too high and that cougars moved to other areas often either return or are killed by other cougars in territorial disputes.

Bend resident Tim Murnane said he’d gone on his weekly hike up the butte Saturday evening and that just after reaching the top, about 7 p.m., an Oregon State Police trooper “told everyone to hike down the dirt trail because of a situation.”

About 10 minutes, later, he said he heard gunshots, presuming the cougar had been tranquilized. But word of what did happen didn’t bother him.

“I know a wild animal in town is a dangerous situation. I don’t have a problem with them killing it,” he said, noting that his daughter attends Juniper Elementary School, on the butte’s western flank.

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