BEND, OR -- At least two, but perhaps as many as four, adult cougars have been spotted in residential areas in both Bend and Redmond in recent days. Michelle Dennehy, with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, admits there has been an uptick in sightings, "It does seem like a lot to have, potentially two in Redmond, and then one or two in the Bend area, too. But, it's a little bit par for the course. I mean, we definitely do get cougar sightings in Central Oregon." Another cougar was euthanized in February after it was seen hunting in a southwest Bend neighborhood.
She tells KBND News, "We have a very healthy cougar population; that's certainly grown over the last few decades. But then the other issue is just that we have more people" Dennehy says, "Obviously, people are there because it's beautiful, because there is a lot of forested habitat around, and all that's cougar country."
According to the Oregon Cattlemen's Association, wolves are pushing elk herds down the mountain, causing problems for farmers in nearby counties. Dennehy says cougars always follow their prey, "They will definitely follow deer and elk as they migrate. So, if you're in an area where there's a lot of deer or elk, it's potentially, going to bring in cougars. Know your neighborhood and know the areas, for example, where you might find a lot of deer together because that's an area where there could be a cougar, too."
She also suggests feeding pets indoors and keeping them inside at night to keep them safe during a cougar's most active hunting time. If you encounter a cougar, make noise, seem as big as possible, and whatever you do, don't run. And, "If you're in town and see a cougar, call 911," says Dennehy. For more tips, visit the ODFW's "Living with Cougars" webpage.