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C.O. experts weigh in on deadly cougar attack


Officials on Thursday will start hunting for the cougar that likely killed a Gresham woman hiking in the Mt. Hood National Forest.

Hounds will be taken into the woods where the body of Diana Bober was found this week.

Bober was reported missing on Aug. 29 and her body was found Monday near the Hunchback trailhead near Welches.

Wildlife officials said at a news conference in Portland Wednesday afternoon they’ll kill any cougar they find in that area and have it tested for DNA evidence of what’s believed to be the first fatal cougar attack ever recorded in the Oregon wilderness.

Despite that, most of Oregon is considered to be cougar country. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are 6,000 cougars scattered across the state.

And according to Jim Moodie, professor of general biology at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, every cougar has a way and a reason for attacking.

“They always are going to go for the neck.” Moodie said.”They want to get a neck bite if they can. That’s a kill bite. They would like to sneak up behind it, jump, make the kill, and then let the prey die.”

“My guess is, when they look at the evidence, they’re probably going to be finding it’s a young cat. Or it’s a cat that’s starving,” he said.

If you do happen to get attacked by a cougar, experts say you should try to fight it off with rocks, sticks or any items available.

And according to Bober’s sister, the victim did just that.

But before it gets to the point of attack, there are a couple other things you can do, as Tim Peterson, an associate professor of outdoor leadership at COCC.

“Cougars will be more intimidated by a larger animal,” Peterson said. “So with a cougar, standing ground, make yourself as large as possible. Some people will unzip jackets and make yourself of greater size to a cougar.”

Other tips include leaving the animal a way to escape, remaining calm, maintaining eye contact, not running and slowly backing away and clapping your hands.

Experts also say it’s unwise to go into cougar country alone.

“I think this speaks to the importance of recreating in the outdoors with other people,” Peterson said. “Solo recreation can be quite enticing to a lot of folks, that peace and quiet and solitude. But it certainly enhances the risk when you do recreate by yourself.”

You can find more tips at this ODFW page.

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