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The cougar.
ODFW kills cougar suspected in deadly attack on hiker posted on 10/01/2018

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) ended its operation to capture a cougar that killed Diana Bober, 55, a Gresham woman hiking on the Hunchback Trail, after all available evidence indicated a cougar captured and later destroyed on Friday, Sept. 14 was responsible for the attack.

“It is highly probable that the cougar that killed Diana is the one that we killed last week,” said Derek Broman, ODFW carnivore coordinator, in a press release dated Friday, Sept. 21.

Bober had not been seen or heard from since Wednesday, Aug. 29 and had been reported as missing to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, Sept. 7. Her body was found off the Hunchback Trail on Monday, Sept. 10, and it was determined that her injuries were consistent with a cougar attack.

“This is a terrible tragedy, and our sympathy goes out to Diana’s family and friends,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW watershed manager

Bober’s death was the first verified fatal attack by a wild cougar in Oregon and initiated a search that included multiple agencies and the closure of more than 21,000 acres in the Mount Hood National Forest around the attack site.

The cougar killed was detected on a trail camera set near the site where the attack occurred, and during the week following its capture, no other cougars were detected in the area or on a network of 31 cameras set on trails, wildlife corridors, saddles and other areas where cougars are likely to travel in a 35-square mile area around the attack site. The cougar was a female, but not lactating.

Kendra Payne, Principal at the Welches Schools (located close to the trail where the attack occurred), said that parents of students received a note explaining that students and staff would not be able to access unfenced areas of the school’s campus, including fields and nature trails during the search for the cougar. The school features six-foot security fencing surrounding the school’s perimeter and playground area and Payne added that additional fencing around the school’s upper fields is expected to be added in the coming months.

After the cougar was killed, it was taken to a lab in Ashland dedicated to wildlife forensics, but due to contamination at the attack site, no relevant DNA from the scene was available for comparison.

“We could not get the DNA evidence we had hoped to obtain in this case,” Broman said. “However, all the evidence available shows we have the right cougar.”

Broman noted it was impossible to determine the motivation for the attack and that there were no signs the animal was unhealthy, including that a rabies test was negative. He added that cougar attacks are extremely rare in the western United States.

“We hope the ending of these operations brings some closure for Diana’s family,” Broman said. “All of us extend our deepest sympathies to the Bober family.”

The U.S. Forest Service reopened the area closed during the cougar capture effort on Monday, Sept. 24.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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