'It was very focused on its next meal - which was me'
PORTLAND, Ore. - A woman and her daughter said they came face-to-face with a cougar on Saturday evening - right outside their Portland home.
Christen Picot, who said she locked eyes with the animal for about five minutes, also said there was more than one of the big cats near her Northwest Portland house. No one was hurt in the encounter.
Picot said they are used to seeing deer, coyotes and foxes near their home, which is next to a forested area on a steep slope. At first, Picot said she thought she was seeing a regular-sized cat.
But she said the animal, just yards away from her house, moved "in an unusual way" that indicated to her that it was no wandering house cat. And she said she wanted to get a closer look.
Picot said she got a flashlight and called her daughter, Elizabeth, to come take a look and "we decided it was so unique that I was going to go outside to check to see what it was."
Elizabeth stayed inside the home. "It was scary at first," she said.
Picot went out to a raised porch area of the home located above the ground and using a flashlight, spotted the animal's green eyes in the gathering darkness. That's when she said she locked eyes with the big cat. "It did not want to break eye contact," she said.
She described it as "muscular and strong-looking."
"It was intriguing," she said. "I did not feel in danger." She said she knew not to make any sudden movements and after some post-sighting research, said she probably should have been more scared.
"It was very focused on its next meal, which was me," Picot added.
Elizabeth snapped a fuzzy photo of the animal and Picot said just up the hill from the first cat was another one.
Picot and her daughter hope to spread the word about the sighting to other neighbors, especially those with children. "It's obvious they have no problem coming this close," she said. "There is a threat and I want people to know about it."
Neighbor Karen Rieder said she thinks having the big cats around could be dangerous but its not a threat since does not let her small dog, Punkin, go out alone.
"We do hear lots of wildlife," she said. "It doesn't hurt to be too careful."
Following the encounter, Picot said she called the offices of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife about the sighting but had not heard back as of Monday evening.
Wildlife experts contacted at ODFW by KATU News said it is not unusual to find mountain lions in the area near Picot's home. Picot said it was the first time she had seen one.
Experts also want to advise anyone spotting a big cat in the wild that Picot did the right thing in maintaining eye contact with the cat. They also advise people to back slowly away from a big cat and not to run.
Also, making yourself appear larger by waving your arms and clapping your hands can ward off aggressive big cats, experts said.