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Police, Wildlife Officials Shoot Two Cougars in John Day; Cougar Safety Tips
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247
Michelle Dennehy
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
(503) 931-2748

Photograph link valid 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
(left to right: ODFW District Biologist Ryan Torland and OSP Trooper Andrew McClay examining teeth of cougar killed by OSP)
Law enforcement and Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) searched for over 6 hours Friday afternoon in the area of a John Day city park and athletic facility after three cougars were reportedly spotted in the area within the city limits of John Day. An Oregon State Police (OSP) trooper shot and killed the first cougar and a second one was killed about four hours later. A third cougar wasn't found.
According to OSP Master Sergeant Gordon Larson, on January 6, 2012 at approximately 12:15 p.m. a John Day resident called 9-1-1 to report a cougar was in a dugout at the John Day 7th Street Complex, a park and athletic facility in the city limits of John Day. Shortly after the first report, another resident who lives next to the complex reported two cougars in his backyard.
OSP troopers from the John Day office responded and found one cougar near the ball field dugouts. Due to the close proximity to homes and people using the park, an OSP Fish & Wildlife Division trooper shot and killed the cougar. ODFW Biologist Ryan Torland estimated the cougar weighed 25 – 30 pounds and appeared malnourished.
OSP, John Day police, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, and ODFW officials searched for the other two reported cougars with the assistance of hound dogs. Police and ODFW officials found signs of two other cougars in the area consistent with reported sightings from citizens and searchers.
A second cougar, similar in size to the first cougar, was shot and killed in the area of the baseball complex at approximately 4:30 p.m. The third cougar was spotted but searchers have lost sight of it.
Larson said no evacuations were necessary. Local radio station KDJY broadcasted warnings to residents and advised them to have their pets stay inside while the search took place.
ODFW, OSP and local law enforcement urge area resident to contact 9-1-1 if they spot any cougars in the John Day area. Cougars seen repeatedly in daylight or around residences or other structures are considered human safety risks. Still, the risk of a cougar attack is very low and there has never been a confirmed cougar attack on a person in Oregon.
ODFW offers the following safety tips if you encounter a cougar:
  • Cougars often will retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.
  • Stay calm and stand your ground.
  • Maintain direct eye contact.
  • Pick up children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the cougar.
  • Back away slowly.
  • Do not run. Running triggers a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.
  • Raise your voice and speak firmly.
  • If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.
  • If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any items available.
Additional information is available on ODFW’s website at: