Officials: Hiker likely killed by cougar in Oregon's first fatal attack in the wild
WELCHES, Ore. (AP) — The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office says a dead hiker was likely killed by a cougar, marking the first verified fatal attack by a wild cougar in Oregon.
A medical examiner said Tuesday 55-year-old Diana Bober's body had injuries consistent with an attack by a cougar.
"It was determined she died from an apparent animal attack. Her injuries are indicative of what experts believe to be that of a cougar," Sheriff Craig Roberts said Tuesday.
DNA samples are being flown by the Oregon State Police to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for further analysis.
"This does have every indication that this is the first fatal attack of a human by a cougar in Oregon," said Brian Wolfer with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“This is an unprecedented event in Oregon, we are asking people to avoid this area while we attempt to remove this cougar,” said Wolfer. “We don’t know what risk it poses to the public.”
Bober's body was found Monday in the Mount Hood National Forest in Welches, about 40 miles southeast of Portland.
She had been missing since Aug. 29. Her car was later found at the Zigzag Ranger Station several miles away.
Bober, of Gresham, was an avid hiker who often trekked in the Mount Hood and Columbia River Gorge areas.
"Wildlife managers will attempt to kill the cougar responsible for the attack," the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
Oregon is home to about 6,600 cougars. Complaints from the public about the big cats have averaged more than 400 per year statewide for the last several years.
People who are recreating 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 encounter a cougar in the wild, you should:
- 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 and clap your hands.
- If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any other items available.