Cougar mauls house cat near Corvallis school

Cougar mauls house cat near Corvallis school
Bill Garber got this photograph of the cougar in his yard in Corvallis. Have you photographed the Corvallis cougar? Post to YouNews at www.kval.com/younews or e-mail KVALNEWS@KVAL.com

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Sharon Gaber admits that, with an acre of property, their "backyard" is pretty big. And while they have a Corvallis address, their land connects to the woods.

So she and husband Bill have learned to deal with things like a cougar taking a jaunt through the yard.

"It's just one of those things," said Garber, who saw the cougar wildlife officials are tracking in Corvallis. "You have to learn to live with it and keep your distance."

State officials said Monday that a cougar prowling Corvallis mauled a house cat near an elementary school and has been spotted in town during the day time on Friday.

And Saturday.

And Sunday. > PICTURES? POST TO KVAL.COM

"This one is a high priority because it's ringing all the bells," said Rick Swart, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Multiple sigthings, in the daytime, in an urban area -- and an attack on a domestic cat."

The state termed the cat "a possible threat to human safety."

On Tuesday morning, state and federal wildlife agents hope to choose the best way to capture the cougar. Options include a live trap or snare, or to use dogs to track the cat in the difficult urban residential environment.

"It's got all the ingredients for a bad outcome, so we want to make sure that doesn't happen," Swart told KVAL News. "They're going to be going after this one pretty aggressively."

The following is a press release courtesy ODFW

CORVALLIS, Ore. - State and federal wildlife officials are pursuing a cougar that was seen in the Corvallis City limits on three occasions since Friday and is considered a possible threat to human safety.

Representatives of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and USDA Wildlife Services are tracking what they believe is a young cougar that was seen Friday, Saturday and Sunday in a northwest Corvallis neighborhood. On one of those occasions, the cougar mauled a domestic cat whose injuries were confirmed by a local veterinarian. The attack took place 300 yards from Wilson Elementary School.

"The cougar has lost its wariness of humans," said Nancy Taylor, district wildlife biologist for ODFW's South Willamette Watershed District. Taylor is working with Landon Schacht from USDA Wildlife Services to capture and remove the animal. "We want people to be aware that there is a problem cat in the area and take the appropriate precautions," she said.

Problem cougars as those that appear to be accustomed to human activity, are visible during daylight hours in close proximity to houses and people, and attack pets.

The cougar seen in Corvallis fits this profile, according to Taylor, which is why ODFW and Wildlife Services are moving aggressively to control the animal.

"We have a responsibility to protect the public when a cougar becomes a human safety concern," she said.

Oregon is home to more than 5,000 cougars.

There has never been a documented case of a cougar attacking a person in Oregon, though it has occurred in other states. ODFW recommends that people familiarize themselves with precautions they can take to avoid conflicts these animals.

These precautions include the following:

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Keep children close and teach them about wildlife
  • Don't leave food and garbage outside
  • Feed pets indoors and keep them inside at night
  • Remove heavy brush from near the house and play areas
  • Install motion-activated outdoor lights
  • Keep areas around bird feeders clean

In the unlikely event that a person encounters a cougar, ODFW recommends saying calm, maintaining direct eye contact, raising your voice and backing away slowly. In the very unusual event that a cougar attacks, fight back with rocks, sticks tools or any items available.

A detailed list of precautionary measures is posted on ODFW's Web site