Cougar encounter safety tips from Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

MEDFORD, Ore. – NBC5 News heard from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on ways that you can stay safe if you encounter a cougar.

They live across Southern Oregon and Northern California and though they’re reclusive, they’re still spotted often locally. The last deadly cougar attack in Oregon was actually not too long ago, back in 2018 in the Mount Hood National Forest. Despite this, cougar attacks in Oregon are considered rare but encounters typically are not. With growing predator and human populations, encounters have been increasing.

Wildlife biologists describe cougars as territorial and solitary hunters. They’re also ambush predators and tend to be surgical in their attacks. And since cougars don’t hibernate in the winter, it’s possible to encounter one at any time of the year. ODFW says knowing how to act can mean the difference between a peaceful interaction and a dangerous one. District Wildlife Biologist for ODFW, Jonathan Muir said,

“Acting large, being loud, staying in groups, these are all things that are good advice. What you don’t want to do is turn and run away and act like prey. You showing them that you see them, you’re aware of your presence, being as large as you can, being as loud as you can, that’s going to deter almost any negative interaction.”

ODFW also says it’s not a bad idea to carry self-defense items to deter predators but that they should only be used as last resorts. ODFW says though that another great way to prevent any dangerous encounters is knowing the area. Check local wildlife reporting, just like Ashland’s Wildlife Reporting and Mapping system available on the city’s website.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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