ZIGZAG — An adult female cougar photographed earlier near where a 55-year-old hiker became Oregon’s first big-cat fatality was shot and killed by government agents Friday afternoon, but the hunt will continue for more potential suspects.
A cougar this morning walked in front of a remote camera set up just a few feet from where victim Diana Bober’s backpack was found on the Hunchback Mountain Trail. Hounds deployed by federal Wildlife Services agents reached the area three hours later and picked up the cat’s scent, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The cougar was trailed until it ran up a tree and was shot with a rifle at about 3 p.m. today, the agency said.
The animal, which was not lactating and therefore not caring for kittens, was whisked away by Oregon State Police troopers to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Forensics Laboratory for DNA and other analysis to see if it matches DNA evidence found at the attack scene, according to the ODFW.
“We don’t know if this is the cougar responsible, but we do know that this cougar was at the attack site today,” Brian Wolfer, the ODFW watershed manager leading the effort, said in a news release. “We are doing all we can to confirm as quickly as possible whether this is the animal responsible.”
Results on the cougar killed today could take at least three days, the agency said.
Until the ODFW receives confirmation that the cougar killed is the right one, staff from ODFW and other agencies will remain on Hunchback Mountain and continue to search for cougars, the release states. If another cougar is found, it may be killed and also tested for evidence, the release states.
The continued effort is intended to increase the probability that the offending cougar is killed, the agency said.
Bober, an avid backwoods trekker who regularly hiked alone, was last seen Aug. 29 and her body was discovered off the remote Mount Hood National Forest trail Monday.
An autopsy conducted Tuesday concluded that she died from an animal attack and the nature of her injuries led ODFW biologists to conclude she was killed by a cougar, but they are awaiting DNA tests from the Ashland lab for final verification.
Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare, with fewer than 30 fatal attacks recorded in more than a century in the West and Canada, experts say.
Bober is the first known person in Oregon to be killed by a cougar.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.