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Early-morning cougar sightings reported in SE Bend, near Grocery Outlet

(Update: Adding video, witness, police comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – At least a few citizens reported seeing a cougar wandering through populated areas of southeast Bend early Thursday morning, including a sighting by Grocery Outlet on Third Street, police said.

The first report, about 3:40 a.m., was of a sighting in the area of Reed Market Road and Silver Lake Boulevard, Corporal Kyle Voll said.

Another sighting was reported shortly before 5 a.m. in the area of Third Street and Wilson Avenue, Voll said. The witness initially spotted the cougar in the area of Grocery Outlet, then followed the animal into a residential neighborhood.

Officers responded to the area but could not find the animal. Voll said its last known location was in the area of Southeast Second Street and Vine Lane.

Voll said someone else indicated an online posting of a sighting on a Ring home video system, at an undisclosed location, and videos also were shared on Facebook and other social media.

Kevin Franklin, who shot video of the cougar near the grocery store, said, "I drove up and realized it was a very large cougar. It proceeded to walk all the way up to the building here. Got very close to it, within about 10 feet. Took some video, actually followed it clear up to Second and Vine, is where we last saw it."

Franklin, a security company owner, says he saw the roughly 100-pound cougar try to open the store's door three times before he honked his horn to get it moving along.

Bend police Lt. Juli McConkey said neither officers nor the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife were able to locate the cougar.

Police reminded residents that if you see a cougar, don’t approach it but call 911.

ODFW posting warning signs Thursday along the trail in the Deschutes River Canyon, since it's believed to have come from that area, or be headed that way.

The tips are familiar ones, such as making sure you're aware of your surroundings, feed pets indoors and keep them in at night, she said. Also that if you encounter one, don't run away and make yourself look as big as you can.

"Hopefully, it will move on," ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said. "It would be even more concerning if it (the sightings) were during the day."

ODFW biologist Corey Heath said from the photos, "It appears to be an adult cat."

While signs are posted, there's no active search underway, Heath said. "If it appears (again) within the city, we'll hear about it."

"There's no way of know, but it probably came from the Deschutes Canyon and is probably going back, so we've posted signs along the trails there."

Below are the recommendations from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, as it relates to cougars:


If you live in cougar country

  • Learn your neighborhood. Be aware of any wildlife corridors or places where deer or elk concentrate.
  • Walk pets during the day and keep them on a leash.
  • Keep pets indoors at dawn and dusk. Shelter them for the night.
  • Feed pets indoors.
  • Don't leave food and garbage outside.
  • Use animal-proof garbage cans if necessary.
  • Remove heavy brush from near the house and play areas.
  • Install motion-activated light outdoors along walkways and driveways.
  • Be more cautious at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
  • Do not feed any wildlife. By attracting other wildlife, you may attract a cougar.
  • Keep areas around bird feeders clean.
  • Deer-proof your garden and yard with nets, lights, fencing.
  • Fence and shelter livestock. Move them to sheds or barns at night.

If You Recreate in Cougar Country

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Leave your dog at home or keep it on a leash. Pets running free may lead a cougar back to you.
  • Hike in groups. Make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.
  • Keep children close to you. Teach them about wildlife.
  • Keep campsites clean. Sleep 100 yards from cooking areas.
  • Store food in animal-proof containers.
  • Carry deterrent spray.
  • Be cautious at dusk and dawn.
  • Never feed any wildlife. Prey attracts predators.
  • Do not approach any wildlife; stay at least 100 yards away.
  • Steer clear of baby wildlife. Mother is likely nearby.
  • Be alert when sitting quietly or stopping to rest.
  • Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
  • Be aware that animal calls and animal kills can attract a cougar.

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, bear or pepper spray, tools or any items available.

The preceding recommendations are compliments of ODFW’s website at:

Article Topic Follows: Wildlife

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Barney Lerten

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