Oregon officials are ending the search for cougars in the Mount Hood area where a hiker was fatally attacked. They say all evidence shows they killed the correct cougar a week ago, even though DNA results were inconclusive.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said Friday they haven’t seen signs of any other cougars near where one was killed on Sept. 14 in Mount Hood National Forest. That’s after extensive monitoring of more than 30 trail cameras placed where mountain lions likely roam.
Officials shot the cougar last week near where hiker Diana Bober's body had been found on Sept. 10. The Gresham woman had been missing since Aug. 29 and wounds on her body indicated she was killed by a cougar.
The decision was made based in part on the appearance of the female cougar on a trail camera that was placed at the exact site where the attack occurred, said Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the department, and also "because we have not detected another cougar after a week of extensive trail camera monitoring.”
Dennehy said the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife forensics lab in Ashland was unable to recover any of the cougar’s DNA left on the hiker's body during the attack.
“When the evidence was recovered, it was believed to be several days after the attack occurred. Heavy rain fell during that time,” she said.
Even so, Dennehy said officials are confident they have the right animal. They think the attack on the hiker and the killing of the cougar occurred within the animal's home range because there wasn’t evidence of other mountain lions in the area. They are known to be territorial.
The cougar didn’t show any signs or rabies or malnutrition. Dennehy said it’s impossible to know why it attacked.