The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office has recovered the body of Diana Bober, 55, who had been reported as missing on August 29. Ms. Bober’s body was found off the Hunchback Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest in Welches, on Sept.10.
According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Ms. Bober’s injuries are consistent with a suspected cougar attack. Positive identification of the responsible kind of animal will be determined using DNA samples that have been flown by the Oregon State Police to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland.
The Oregon Trail School District has been contacted and made aware of the incident.
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our sympathy goes out to Diana’s family and friends,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW watershed manager. “All of us at ODFW are thinking of you today.”
This event is the first verified fatal attack ever by a wild cougar in Oregon. Wildlife managers will try to kill the cougar responsible for the attack. ODFW wildlife biologists and Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife officers went to the scene earlier today to assess the situation and decide how best to locate the cougar. Also, evidence from the scene has been sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore. for analysis.
ODFW says Oregon has about 6,600 cougars of all age classes found throughout the state. ODFW keeps a record of conflicts with cougars, usually when they kill livestock or pets or threaten human safety by being in town repeatedly in daylight. Complaints across Oregon have averaged more than 400 per year for the last several years.
Landowners and law enforcement are allowed to kill Cougars when they cause agricultural damage or threaten human safety. They can also be hunted. This tragic incident occurred in the Santiam Wildlife Management Unit, where cougar mortalities due to livestock damage, human safety complaints or hunting have averaged about 20 per year for the past 10 years.
“This is an unprecedented event in Oregon, we are asking people to avoid this area while we try to remove this cougar,” said Wolfer. “We don’t know what risk it poses to the public.”
People who are recreating in the area or anywhere in cougar country are always advised to:
* Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
* Hike in groups.
* Keep your dog close to you or on a leash.
* Make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.
* Keep children close to you.
* Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
If you see a cougar in the area, call 911 immediately.
If you encounter a cougar in the wild:
* Stay calm and stand your ground.
* Maintain direct eye contact.
* Pick up any 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. Clap your hands.
* If a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any other items available.
Editor’s note: You also might consider carrying a firearm.