Oregon wildlife officials kill cougar that threatened jogger

Oregon wildlife officials kill cougar that threatened jogger

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Four days after a cougar chased a jogger in an Oregon forest, state and federal wildlife officials on Wednesday tracked down and killed a mountain lion believed to be the same animal.

The runner’s frightening encounter with the cougar occurred Saturday in the Dunn Forest, a research facility managed by nearby Oregon State University’s College of Forestry that is popular with runners, hikers and mountain bikers. Authorities quickly closed the forest, which is blanketed with Douglas fir and other trees, as wildlife officials hunted for the aggressive animal.

There are 6,500 cougars in Oregon, the state wildlife department says, and they generally avoid humans. But last year, a cougar killed a woman hiker near Mount Hood, the first person known to have been killed by a cougar in the wild in Oregon, and the second in the Pacific Northwest that year.

Peter Idema, 68, of Corvallis, was out for a morning run when he saw the small cougar approaching, its ears back, which is a sign of aggression.

“I’m screaming, and trying to make myself large - all the things you’re supposed to do when you have a mountain lion coming,” Idema told Oregon Public Radio. “And it just kept coming. It got right up to me, ears back.”

Idema says he kicked the cougar hard in the face, briefly sending the animal scampering into the bushes before it again began to chase him.

“It wasn’t behaving like it should have behaved. It had plenty of chance to leave,” Idema said. “And it just kept coming and coming.”

The cougar followed Idema until two hikers with a dog arrived on the scene, causing the cougar to leave. Idema was not injured by the cougar, but he received minor scrapes and cuts from falling while he was running away, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

Officials have been searching for the cougar since Saturday, using hounds, call boxes which emit the sound of a distressed animal and can attract a cougar, and traps and snares.

The hounds picked up the cougar’s scent on Wednesday about 400 yards (365 meters) from where the incident occurred, and staffers from the state wildlife department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services followed it onto adjacent private property, where the cougar was treed and shot.

The cougar fit the description provided by the runner, who said the cougar was thin but not emaciated.

“We believe this aggressive cougar was captured and put down today,” said Brian Wolfer of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The agency’s priority is human safety. We will not relocate a cougar that has shown aggressive behavior.”

The carcass was taken to a laboratory within OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine for examination. It weighed 75 pounds (34 kilograms) and is estimated to be 1 to 2 years old, the state wildlife department said.

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