Cougar seen Thursday near school: 'Police are asking that residents shelter in place'

    Oregon is home to thousands of cougars. (SBG)

    SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Police ask the public to shelter in place or use extreme caution after another cougar sighting near an elementary school Thursday afternoon.

    Officers responded to S. 41st Street and Filbert Lane with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife after another sighting around 3 p.m.

    That's near Mount Vernon Elementary School, where a motorist saw a cougar early Wednesday morning.

    "Officers have discovered what appears to be evidence of predatory animal kills and believe the cougar to be responsible," police said on Facebook. "With the release of children from area schools, police are asking that residents shelter in place and/or closely monitor their surroundings until authorities clear the area."

    The sighting near the school is the second of the day and the latest in a long string of cougar sightings this week in Springield.

    A Springfield resident on Thursday reported seeing a cougar walking in the ditch behind the 4200 block of Cole Way at 12:15 p.m., police said.

    Two employees at the Swanson Mill saw a pair of cougars Wednesday night in a gravel parking lot.

    Early Wednesday morning, a motorist saw a cougar in a field near Mount Vernon Elementary School.

    That isn't far from where a resident found a cougar in the bed of his pickup truck Tuesday night.

    And back in July, Springfield Police shot and killed a cougar in a tree outside a home at 30th and Olympic streets. That cat was initially spotted atop a fence stalking children playing in a pool in a backyard.

    Cougars a hot topic in Oregon

    Authorities in Sutherlin, Oregon, are also investigating possible cougar sightings near a school there.

    Cougars have been back in the news in the wake of the first-known fatal cougar attack on a human in the wild this summer near Mount Hood.

    The death of 55-year-old Diana Bober of Gresham has renewed debate over Oregon's ban on hunting cougars with hounds. Voters passed the ban in 1994.

    An effort to repeal the ban 2 years later failed at the ballot box.

    Biologists saw there are now twice as many cougars - more than 6,000 - in Oregon than before the ban.

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