Fearsome! Here’s a KATU news photo of the “cougar” that was reported to be stalking around Fanno Creek Park near Beaverton on Thursday.
It turned out to be Mittens, a large cat to be sure, but of the domesticated house pet variety. None the less, the man who spotted the animal, Drew Essig, "said he saw in the park wetlands a large cat similar to a cougar." It was described as larger than a pet and having a tail about 3 feet long.
On Friday a KATU news team captured photos of both Mittens, the non-cougar,. and Essig, the non-cougar sighter. Essig was embarrassed but good-natured: Oh, my god, this is embarassing. Yeah...and they're still filming me. Thanks, guys. Oh, my god. Do you know how many people I called and said, "I saw a cougar." Oh, wow.
After the story aired, KATU went back live to the anchor desk where this exchange took place: Weatherman: “Now, when you see a cougar, I’m thinking there’s probably no doubt about it. Anchor: “Well, apparently there was.”
Yes indeed, there was. This would just be an amusing story of mistaken cougar identity if it weren’t for the fact that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed a Cougar Management Plan whose goal is to reduce the number of cougar complaints to 1994 levels. In other words, cougars would be slaughtered on the basis of unsubstantiated complaints like Essig’s.
As the Cougar Fund points out about the plan: "Complaints are not a good way to measure anything since few can correctly id a cougar and media hype sends these numbers soaring--additionally, the method for collecting reports is poor and anybody can place a call, saying just about anything, and it is logged as a complaint…Studies show that up to 90% of complaints are not cougars at all."
Sometimes they’re Mittens, the kitty cat.
Tell the Department of Fish and Wildlife that they’ve come up with a ridiculous Cougar Management Plan. Submit a comment before October 31. The Cougar Fund has some excellent talking points for inclusion in comments.
Here’s another instance of an extremely shaky cougar sighting that I wrote about a few months ago.