Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oregon: Cougar killed after eating pet cat

March 9, 2007

TILLER — A local family found a startling surprise Thursday morning when they opened the door to see a cougar gnawing on their pet cat.

Richard Caswell said his daughter, Jill Walters, was about to send her children to catch the school bus to Days Creek around 7 a.m. when they spotted the animal at their home on the 20000 block of Tiller Trail Highway.

“It was eating their family cat, Whitey, right on their front porch,” said Caswell, who also lives in Tiller.

By the time Caswell made it to his daughter ’s home, the mountain lion had backed off the porch with its meal and was hiding in the bushes behind the house.

Caswell said the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife referred them to the federal Wildlife Services, and an agent with a dog came out about an hour after the call.

The Wildlife Services agent tracked down the animal — a male probably about 6 months old — and killed it, said Tod Lum, Douglas wildlife district biologist with ODFW.

“It’s a matter of getting someone there expeditiously,” he said of referring the family to Wildlife Services. “… They are the guys in the field with the tools to do the job.”

Caswell said his daughter and her family live close to Tiller Elementary School. He said cougars have been seen in the bushes and trees behind the school in the past.

Rose McDonald, an educational assistant at the elementary school, said officials heard rumors a cougar was in the area Thursday.

Though it wasn’t confirmed, they made sure students stayed close to the buildings during their recesses, she said.

Caswell, who was upset that ODFW didn’t respond, said the cougar population is far too high in Douglas County. He pointed out the importance of county funding for Wildlife Services.

“It really needs to be addressed before somebody gets hurt or killed,” he said.

* You can reach reporter Chelsea Duncan at 957-4246 or by e-mail at 20070309/NEWS/70309014

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