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BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are working on a formal plan for the next time a cougar is spotted in a populated area. In response to an incident in late March when a police officer shot and killed a cougar discovered at Pilot Butte State Park, councilors sent a letter to state wildlife officials asking for guidance.

 

Bend Police Chief Jim Porter tells KBND his department responds to a number of cougar calls, every year. "I know what city Council is trying to do, is to find some ground in the middle, so we can exist with them without having to take terminal action with every cougar we find. And, they’re reaching out to the state and to the federal wildlife service and see if they can provide us some support in this, and help us get a long-term vision of where we need to take this management of wildlife."
 
Chief Porter stands by his officer’s actions at Pilot Butte, saying that cougar had become a danger. "We respond to numerous cougar calls every year where we take no action, where the cougar is on the peripheral of Bend or he’s in an area where he’s not directly threatening people, or where there are not people who could be threatened. In this last case, we’re talking within a couple hundred yards of an elementary school, with children walking back and forth to school. This cougar had clearly lost his fear of humans. And so, the decision was made, and appropriately so, and the city council supported the decision, on making sure that cougar did not have the opportunity to prey on a child going to school."
 
He says a game plan is necessary, as cougar sightings become more prevalent. "Prior to 1994, they were able to hunt cougars with the aid of dogs. It’s very difficult to hunt a cougar without a dog. I’m not commenting on the law, I’m just saying that’s what happened, and so we’ve seen the cougar population explode. So, we will continue, even with the presence of assistance from the state, to look at every situation, weigh the totality – the threat to the public – and, the animal’s livability in that situation before we take action."
 
To hear our full conversation with Chief Jim Porter, visit our Podcast page. 
 

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