POLK COUNTY — In late March, John Glass found a cougar cub on his back porch. A couple nights later, a man stopped by to let him know an adult was spotted in front of his driveway in the 2000 block of East Ellendale Avenue.
“It is the first time,” Glass said. “I’ve been there 20 years, and we’ve never had any issues with cougars before.”
When he spotted them, he dialed 911. Dispatchers referred him to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
If You Encounter a Cougar
Cougars often will retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.
Stay calm and stand your ground.
Maintain direct eye contact.
Pick up 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 items available.
If you live in cougar country
Learn your neighborhood. Be aware of any wildlife corridors or places where deer or elk concentrate.
Walk pets during the day and keep them on a leash.
Keep pets indoors at dawn and dusk. Shelter them for the night.
Feed pets indoors.
Don’t leave food and garbage outside.
Use animal-proof garbage cans if necessary.
Remove heavy brush from near the house and play areas.
Install motion-activated light outdoors along walkways and driveways.
Be more cautious at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
Do not feed any wildlife. By attracting other wildlife, you may attract a cougar.
Keep areas around bird feeders clean.
Deer-proof your garden and yard with nets, lights, fencing.
Fence and shelter livestock. Move them to sheds or barns at night.
“They did an extensive interview,” Glass said. “They said that cougar looks like it has an aggressive stance.”
Glass said ODFW connected him with a contractor to remove the animals from the area. The hunter dropped a roadkill deer at Glass’ barn as bait for the mountain lions, but hasn’t come back.
“I assume he hasn’t been able to track them with his hounds,” Glass said.
Contacts with cougars have stopped for a few weeks on Glass’ property, but he is still concerned about leaving his dogs outside at night.
“This is not an uncommon occurrence in situations like this,” said Michelle Dennehy, wildlife communications coordinator for ODFW. “Cougars cause trouble, then leave and don’t come back.”
Oregon’s Zone A, which includes Polk County, has an estimated population of 950 cougars, Dennehy said.
Sightings are on the rise, said Sheriff Mark Garton.
“We had four in 2016, eight in 2017, and two so far in 2018,” Garton said.
In 2016, the sheriff’s office was not on full time, so he said people may just not have been reporting things to his department.
“Some are not necessarily a confirmed sighting,” Garton said. “My cat’s missing; I heard there was a cougar. Others have game cameras.”
If livestock or pets have been killed and a cougar is suspect, Garton said he will call Oregon State Police, who has fish and wildlife officers.
The county has a contract with a trapper, but the person works over three counties, and not just for nuisance cougars, but other wild animals also.
“I think it’s (contacts with cougars) becoming more prevalent,” Garton said. “Cougars have a huge space of where they consider their territory.”
The closest sighting to a city was in 2017 when a cougar was spotted at Dallas City Park. Garton said ODFW came out several times and never found the animal, which hasn’t been spotted again.
If you see one, don’t stop and take pictures, Garton said.