WELCHES, OR -- Authorities believe a woman hiking alone on a trail near Mount Hood was killed by a cougar. If it's confirmed, state officials say it would be the first fatal attack by a cougar in the wild, in Oregon.
Diana Bober had been missing since August 29; hikers found her backpack the next day and turned it in to the Zig Zag Ranger Station, but they didn't know it was Bober's. The 55-year-old Gresham woman's car was found near the ranger station over the weekend, but her body wasn't discovered until Monday. She was found 200-feet down a steep hillside, off the Hunchback Trail, near Welches. "Her injuries are indicative of what experts believe to be that of a cougar," Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said Tuesday. Investigators believe she was attacked prior to falling down the embankment.
DNA is being tested at a lab in Ashland to determine whether it was a cougar or another animal. Brian Wolfer, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says they believe it was a cougar and are now looking for the big cat, "We don’t know and can’t quantify the threat that this particular animal may pose to the public, and so we’re making every effort, along with our partner agencies, to locate this animal." He adds, "This is a very tragic event; this is an unprecedented event. We don’t have an indication that things have changed and there’s an increased public threat from the average cougar. This cougar is one that we do want to be able to locate for public safety."
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office notified school officials in Welches, several miles from where the attack happened. They also advise everyone to take precautions, like hiking in pairs, keeping children close and dogs on a leash. And, they ask visitors to avoid the Hunchback Trail while authorities try to capture the cougar.