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The suspected cougar was captured on a trail camera set just a few feet from where the victim's backpack was picked up on the Hunchback Mountain trail. The photo was taken Sept. 14. (ODFW photo)

Hiker suffered broken neck, puncture wounds

A Gresham woman killed in a suspected cougar attack near Mount Hood suffered a broken neck and had more than a dozen puncture wounds to the nape of her neck, records released this week show.

Those injuries — as well as wounds on Diana Bober’s hands — “appeared to be consistent with an animal attack,” staff in the Clackamas County medical examiner’s office determined, according to a state police report.

The 5-page report doesn’t list an official cause of death for Bober, 55, and it’s unclear why it’s missing. Her death is the state’s first confirmed fatal wild cougar attack.

Wildlife officials later shot and killed a female cougar they believe mauled Bober, based on all available evidence.

The new details emerged in Oregon State Police documents obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive through a public records request.

Searchers found Bober, an avid outdoorswoman, on Sept. 10 in the Mount Hood National Forest, three days after out-of-state relatives reported her missing. They said they hadn’t heard from her since Aug. 29.

Her body was discovered about 300 feet off the Hunchback Trail and down a steep incline, the state police report shows. The area was about a mile from the Zigzag Ranger Station, where searchers first found Bober’s car.

State officials said her wounds indicated a wild cougar was responsible.

A hunt for the mountain lion began almost immediately. Officials set up multiple cameras along the Hunchback Trail in the area where Bober was found.

Three days later, on Sept. 14, a trail camera captured an image of a large cougar, state police records show.

“This appears to be a big cat,” Sgt. Todd Hoodenpyl wrote to Capt. Jeff Samuels and Trooper Casey Codding at 9:51 a.m. that day.

About six hours later, search dogs treed the cougar off the Hunchback Trail and it was shot and killed, according to state police.

The cougar’s body was then bagged, tagged and sent to southern Oregon for analysis along with Bober’s clothing and other evidence collected during the investigation.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Lab in Ashland wasn’t able to extract DNA from any of the evidence provided in the case because of the “significant lag” between when Bober was found and when the attack likely happened, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said last month.

Rainy weather washed away a lot of DNA that also could have been used to determine conclusively if the female cougar killed Bober, the agency said.

Wildlife officials also never found any clear evidence why the attack occurred. At 64 ½ pounds, the cougar killed wasn’t emaciated, hadn’t had kittens in several years and tested negative for rabies and other diseases, according to the agency.

According to the state police report: “ODFW believed based on all available evidence that the cougar that was killed by USDA Wildlife Services ... was the animal that attacked and killed Diana Bober.”

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