A new wildlife tracking system shows confirmed cougar and bear sightings, and deer carcasses left by large predators in Ashland. Anyone can go into the system and report sightings at gis.ashland.or.us/cougar.
In an emergency situation, a call should be made to 911 or 541-770-4784.
City Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said there’s been no cougar sightings, to his knowledge, within the past couple of days. All past reported sightings were at night or around dawn, which is within Oregon safety standards.
O’Meara said the idea came from a citizen who suggested APD make a mapping system to track where the cougars have been.
“We thought we’d take it one step further and said ‘let’s do a mapping system that is driven by community input and is cougars, bears and deer carcasses that seem to be attributable to cougars and bears’,” O’Meara said.
The mapping system was created by the Ashland Police Department in partnership with the city’s geographic information system department.
The questions required to be answered when reporting a sighting came from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, O’Meara said.
“I think people enjoy being well-informed and educated and this gives them a snapshot of exactly where all the sightings have been, so they can make appropriate decisions,” O’Meara said.
As of 6 p.m. Friday, the map showed icons for five carcasses and 16 each for bear and cougar sightings.
The earliest report is dated Oct. 15; the most recent was for Friday, Nov. 9.
One, a sighting of a cougar at 10:38 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, indicated that an “officer observed the cat walking toward (SOU) campus, officer tried to get a clean shot to put the cat down, but could not fire safely.” That was two days after an officer did shoot at a cougar near the Hannon Library about two blocks away, at about the same time of night. The shot missed the cougar, but did scare it away.
Besides SOU, cougar sightings were also reported on the Bellview School and old Lincoln School campuses.