Cougars on Spencers Butte: 'They were on both sides of us'

Cougars on Spencers Butte: 'They were on both sides of us' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- Facing finals week, University of Oregon sophomores Julie Butdorf and Jenna Rosenfeld did what they had to do -- and tried to reward themselves for their hard work with a hike up Eugene's Spencer Butte.

"We pulled an all-nighter in the library," Butdorf said, "and decided to watch the sunrise before we slept."

The two only made it a short distance -- and missed the sunrise.

"We saw one on this side," Rosenfeld said. "Heard it growl at us."

Their pre-dawn journey had been interupted by not one, not two, but three cougars.

"It was pretty clear that there was more than one," Rosenfeld, "and they were on both sides of us."

Instead of panicking, the two "yelled and growled and made a whole lot of noise the whole way down," she said.

That's exactly what wildlife biologists recommend for hikers who come face to face with cougars.

Brian Wolfer with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife told KVAL News there has never been a verified case of a cougar attacking a human in this area. The big cats usually hunt at night when there aren't people in the parks.

There aren't people at those hours -- unless they've pulled an all-nighter on campus, grabbed a headlamp and headed out for a sunrise hike.

"You guys did the right thing by yelling, clapping your hands, making noise and making yourselves look intimidating," Wolfer told Rosenfeld and Butdorf.

So, if there's never been an attack, were the two ever actually in danger?

"You know they said they were followed for a ways," Wolfer said. "I'm not sure."

In the wake of the report, city employees posted signs warning people to be careful and keep kids and dogs close by.

Butdorf and Rosenfeld said they'll be back to Spencers Butte -- during daylight hours.