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April 14, 2006


Brian & Laurel:
Thanks for writing about this.

The numbers are rather staggering. The state estimates that there are 5,100 cougars in Oregon and want "ideally" to reduce it to 3,000? This isn't a cull, it's a slaughter.

I agree the public should be outraged, but a "slapdown" at the ballot box might come a little late for felis concolor. Maybe it's time to make this an issue in the Gubernatorial race?

I enjoy reading your views and this particular item is especially intriguing. I've read the ODFW plan and followed the links to the other pertinent perspectives and found others as well. The ‘science’ is in some ways almost arcane to the lay person. As I read, I realized that this is really about much more than man and cougar; it's really about humans and the environment and how we tinker with this bit and that bit, all for good reasons of course, balancing this with that, applying data sets from this expert and that expert and for what? The part I'm missing here is what led to this? What was the driver, I wonder, behind this plan that no one, apparently, really likes?

Edison, excellent questions. I don't know the answers. The Oregon Cattlemen's Association seemed to be an active player in the effort to shoot wolves on sight. Maybe they were the power behind the scenes here as well.

Given how few livestock are lost to cougars, it seems crazy to kill thousands of the cats just to save a small number of sheep and such. I suspect you could recompense livestock owners completely for their losses out of the $600,000 or so it will cost to administer this ill-advised plan.

On a different explanatory level, there may also be a "fear factor" involved here--a primal fear of big creatures who roam in the dark and can crunch you. That makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but not rationally, given the extremely low risk of being attacked by a cougar.

These city dwellers in the Willamette valley have no idea the kind of
condition that eastern oregon is in with the huge cougar population. A
few years ago they saw the commercials with the poor cougars being treed
by dogs and shot. Poor cougar. I go to eastern oregon every year to
hunt and vacation. Over the past 10 years I have seen a dramatic decline
in the deer population. I have been told by numerous state officials in
the area that if I were to see a cougar to please shoot it no matter
what. I talked to a Forest Service Official who could not even complete
his job of marking trees due to the cougars that were trying to stalk
him. I think you need to bring back the hunting of cougars with dogs.
These will help the deer and elk populations and the mindless road
closures that are taking place now to supposidly help the populations will not
be needed. Please email me if you have any questions or if I can help
in any way to accomplish these goals. Regards, Chris Hopman

I'm a native Oregonian. I've been an outdoorsman and hunter all my life. I am concerned when I hear estimates that 50% of the elk calves each year are being killed by cougar. i know that the deer and elk populations are on the decline.

I have been on the hill side with three cougars. I was hunting elk and had a 30.06. One cougar crouched and approached me. I did not have a tag, and was concerned about the consequences of killing a cougar without the tag. I yelled, the cougars left. If they hadn't I would have shot. I will not go into the woods without a firearm and a tag. Everyone gets to make their own decison. If you are in the woods and encounter a cougar, good luck.

Robert, well, since no one ever has been attacked in Oregon by a cougar, I think my luck (and yours) is in good shape. You and I are at hugely more risk of being attacked by a human or a dog.

I hope you carry a gun with you when you go to the store or a movie, because you're at a lot more risk in these places than in cougar country.

You are right, this is a huge slap in the face to voters. But this slap doesn't come from the ODFW,they got slapped first, back in 1994. We slapped ourselves! We voted hunting out, which took the power away from the ODFW to carefully control the cougar population. They had the cougar population down to a science by knowing exactly how many cougars were harvested every year from the controlled hunts that they regulated. Now they have no other way to control them. They are forced to use bounty hunters because they cannot reverse a vote made by US! Now instead of calculated cougar control, increased revenue, and thousands of dollars towards Oregon's economy from hunters, we as tax payers are paying for federal hunters to do what hunters should be doing. It is a double slap in the face to us. We are losing money in both directions and at the same time the cougars are still being hunted with dogs. Good move Oregonians! The only way to correct this problem is to vote again and change the law.

My name is Jessie. I am a female teenager and I feel very strongly about the cougar plan. I live out in Trail, Oregon. I'm not sure if you knew or not, but Trail is in the middle of cougar territory. Yep, they may be pretty, but they're a donkey's butt to get along with. You say that people have never been attacked.... False, google it, you might learn something. But, even if there were no cougar attacks in Oregon to people, we still have livestock and pets. My cat got eaten recently by a cougar. And now because of people like you, I can't legally find the cougar and put a bullet up it's butt. Alot of my friends are in clubs, like 4-H or FFA. If you didn't know those clubs are for kids and teens who would like a hobbie, like a good thing to go on there reputation, and it's a good way to raise some money. Those clubs contain many options, such as cooking, art, and even livestock. Oh lookie there. Livestock. Some of them put so much time, money, and effort into the animal that they choose to raise. But it all adds up to a negative nothing when their animal is eaten by a cougar. It's sad. All of their hard work, gone. And because of people like you, we can't track the problem to get rid of it. You might not think cougars are a problem because you might not have any around you to be a problem. But try living where there is a problem, and see if it changes your mind. Oh, and what are you going to say when someone is killed by a cougar? Maybe a five year old girl. Are you going to just turn away from it and say, 'It was only one little problem..... dogs kill tons of people.' Well then, maybe we should start killing dogs.... ALONG with the cougars. Get your facts straight if you're going to make a big deal out of something you know nothing about.

Jessie, we do live around cougars. Real close to cougars. So close, I walked by a cougar kill while, almost certainly, the cat was still close by. See my post:

And my wife and I still don't believe in killing cougars. Because we're not afraid of them. We're a lot more afraid of cars, lightning, dogs, and people (to name a few "afraids"), because these things are a lot more dangerous to humans than cougars.

I'm sorry that your friends have lost animals to cougars. But there are ways to protect livestock or pets from cougars. If you live in cougar country, you need to learn those ways.

I don't believe that every slight risk or annoyance to humans should be killed or erased from the Earth. I believe that we have to coexist with cougars, wolves, snakes, mosquitos, and many other living things that sometimes don't act as we would like.

As you said, if cougars should be killed because one might someday attack a human, then humans should be killed for the same reason. Also, dogs. Humans and dogs have killed hugely more people than cougars. So why aren't we thinning the human and dog populations?

I'm glad you live "near" cougar territory. Wow. Thats really gives you a small taste of whats going on.
You say your not afraid of cougars? So if you encountered a cougar you wouldn't even think twice about being scared or thinking about the situation? If you say no, I say bull. Either you're so stubborn you can't admit you're wrong or your just plain stupid.I'm not trying to get all personal with you, but think about it.Who is seriously not smart enough to be "afraid" of a cougar? And whats up with you and dogs?
Do you have any dogs? I'm not sure if you've noticed, but over the years people have had dogs as pets, and as far as I'm concerned cougars aren't house pets. Meaning, THEY ARE A DANGER. The reason cougar are less of a threat at the moment is because what do you think would happen if we started letting cougars sleep in our beds with us, instead of our dogs? There is a reason for everything, and the reason for that is 'it is just plain idiotic to let something with killer teeth and claws sleep with you.' They are carnivors and that means that they EAT MEAT, not happy little dog crumbs and biscuts. But hey its your choice and your right to beleive what you want to.
Hey, did you hear about the people in Alaska? Well let me fill you in. About three years ago there was a Californian couple who felt the same way you do but about bears. They went to Alaska to prove that they (bears) were harmless. Guess what happened to them? They were eaten...... by the bears. Look it up, I left you a web site if you think my information is wrong. Ya never know, someday your ignorance might get you killed, like the people in Alaska.
What is it with you and killing cougars anyways? Do you eat meat? Oh gosh, don't tell me you're a vegitarian too. Well, if you do eat meat that meat comes from a animal, that has been killed. Kinda like the cougar. So why is it okay to kill cows and chickens, but it isn't alright with you to kill cougars?
Alot of people make a living by hunting deer. Cougars main prey is deer. With the cougar population going up the deer population is going down. It's harder for hunters to make a living with as many cougars eating deer as there are.
So you say that there are more people killing people than there are cougars klling people? Yes, you're right about that. But have cougars had the chance to really kill us? Not exactly. Yet they still manage to do it. Intense. Sure people do kill people, but have you read the newspaper lately? Those people get caught and thrown in jail. And they are kept there,where they can't go murder someone. But last time I checked, cougars don't have their own little jail. The law is the only thing holding our criminals behind bars. And the law is the only thing keeping some people from killing cougars.

My name is Matt, I am 19 and live in Monmouth Oregon. I have lived on my family's grass seed farm my entire life. Obviously from reading your article we have very different but also similar thoughts about the wildlife that we are blessed to have here in our great state of Oregon. Along with raising grass seed and christmas trees we also have close to 100 cattle. Ever since the ban against hunting cougars and bears with hounds we have had a significant number of livestock killed by cougars. Both sheep and cattle, and this is just from one small operation in western oregon. This is my family's livelyhood i'm talking about. To stress even more about my local area, this winter a horsetrainer 1 mile down the road gave us a call early one morning after a cougar chased after one of her hired hands while feeding horses in her barn which was only 50ft from her house. He had to ward the animal off with a pitchfork. I'm sorry you might not be able to understand our situation but its sad to think that our fellow oregonians are making decisions that are working against us when they have no real concept of the problem at hand. The livestock that I am talking about is let out during the day and then brought into a barn during the evening which is gated with about the best fencing money can buy. So i'd certainly be glad to hear of a couple of your other options to protect our livestock and pets? Another sad fact is that cougars will kill 1 deer a week and in the hot summer months they will kill up to 3 deer every week because they are picky eaters and amazing hunters which will not eat spoiled meat. I'm sorry to let you in on a little info but, i personally know of a lot of ranchers in eastern oregon who have absolutly no other option but to take matters into their own hands. And trust me we had a good thing going when we could legally hunt cougars with hounds because that is the only way to effectivly control their population. They are the best hunters in oregon and as any hunter will tell you, unless you happen to walk upon one of these mainly nocturnal animals their is certainly no way to effectively hunt them. Another fact is that humans are in the equation as a problem, this is obvious and what i mean by this is that nature isn't able to find a way that is effective. We have to do something about it. Humans come in and change everything, no one can expect wildlife to survive in a healthy manner after humans have come to an area. Thats why we have wildlife conservation such as hunting and carefully calculated amounts of animals to be taken to sustain and or improve populations. There are a lot of facts missing and this missing info affects a lot of people directly even though it may not affect you directly right now or ever. Please help look out for the rest of your fellow oregonians as a whole and get the facts.

I don't know where you get your information, but people are being attacked and harrassed by cougars out in Eastern Oregon. We had one harrassing a horseback rider on Weston Mountain about a month ago. And some ranchers out near Heppner told of a cougar that also harrassed a rider on horseback and managed to maul the guy before his co-workers rescued him.

I know of two attacks by cougars in California on humans. One of the women went on Oprah show to share her terrifying story. The other guy didn't survive to share his story. A friend of mine jogging in the mountains of Southern California was stocked by a mountain lion. And just two months ago a child was attacked by a mountain lion out near Spokane, WA.

I enjoy jogging out in the woods to stay in shape. No matter what the statistics say about the odds of getting harmed by a cougar- if you were to ask the wildlife officials here in Eastern Oregon they have been warning people to carry a gun for their own safety when they venture out into the woods.

So who should I believe? The family members of victims, ranchers and wildlife officials who are facing the dangers of cougars every day or somebody who sits in his blog website chair examining statistics of potential danger? I think the answer is obvious.

C.T., you're welcome to your opinion. But that's just what it is: an opinion. You make the point that I've made several times on this subject.

Anecdotal evidence isn't genuine evidence. People often think they see a cougar when what they see is something else--like a kitty cat.

Funny. I searched Google News for evidence of a cougar attack in Heppner. Or Eastern Oregon. Or anywhere in Oregon. Nothing. Guess it either wasn't newsworthy or it didn't happen. Guess which I think is true.

FYI, today my wife and I went for a five mile hike in Eastern Oregon. OK, actually Central Oregon, on the Metolius, but I'm told this is cougar country. As is the rural area around our home in south Salem.

I get out quite a bit for a blogger. I've walked right by cougar kills. And I'm still alive. May I suggest that you get a dog if you're worried about being attacked? Or you could carry a gun, but a dog is lighter, because it walks by itself.

Lastly, you're at vastly more risk of being attacked by a human or a dog. Tell your friends to start lobbying government to control the human and dog population. That will do a lot more for public safety than killing cougars.

If the population of cougars gets too large for the food supply, they die... that's what I said, DIE. The population can't just continue to grow forever. It's a wonderful thought but that's not the way it works. So when the numbers are so high, why would we wait for them to come looking for something else to eat? Well, they ate some livestock, pets, and threatened some people, but finally they starved enough to drop the numbers... that's logical. There's a common mistake made among folks with your opinion. You seem to think that humans are not a part of nature but we are. It's really easy to sit in your Salem home and go out hiking in "nature" once and a while, but you don't live it like those folks do. You'll never get it.

Apple8, thank you for your opinion, as misinformed as it is. We live on ten acres in rural south Salem. Cougars are spotted in our area regularly.

I walk our dog every evening past a lake where cougar kills were evident last fall. I walk at dusk; I walk at night. I found the cougar kills and probably was being watched by a cougar.

Am I scared? No. Am I cautious? Yes. You're right. People are part of nature. Almost always animals don't kill just for the heck of it. They kill for a reason--because they're hungry, or because they're threatened.

I'm not hungry for a cougar. Nor am I threatened by cougars. Maybe I'm braver than other people who have an irrational fear of cougars (you're hugely more likely to be injured by a human male; should we thin their ranks before they hurt us? Oh, oops, I am one--not a good idea, I just decided).

Or maybe I'm more knowledgeable about cougar behavior. Either way, Oregon shouldn't allow its cougar policies to be determined by fear or ignorance.

I live in Eastern Oregon. I have seen cougars and have gone riding shortly after a cougar ran across my trail, chasing a yearling elk. How do I know? I saw the tracks and my horse almost had a heart attack for a good long prolonged 10 minutes, until we managed to booger to a different area.

I've come across cat scat in my horses' pasture as well, and a cougar was recently hit by a dump truck on the highway above Weston.

Cougars are frequently seen on the reservation, where there are children traveling back and forth between houses and the store, the park, and, in general, all over.

I love cats, and I think we are blessed to have cougar and other wildlife. I think, however, we should protect the right to protect ourselves and make sure we are as safe as possible. Being killed or mauled by a cat is a terrible thing, and I don't think we should allow romantic notions make us foolish when it comes to taking the necessary measures to keep us safe.

Neither do I think we should ignore the cats simply because dogs are a bigger problem. Dog problems are routinely dealt with. We need to do the same with cougars or any other potentially dangerous animal as well.

I think that it is interesting how those of us in Eastern Oregon must suffer because of the large populations in the "valley" when it comes to a statewide vote. I am mainly talking about issues related to wildlife such as the ban on the use of dogs for hunting cougars, ranching or the rural life since most of Eastern Oregon is rural. I also find it interesting how a hand full of people in this area who were misinformed as to what the ban on the use of dogs for hunting Cougars are now sorry they voted in favor of the ban. I have talked to a couple of them about the Deer and Elk populations and they are ever so sorry they made the mistake of voting for a foolish ban. I was born and raised in Northeastern Oregon and I have witnessed the downward spiral of Deer and Elk populations due to all the tree huggers in "valley" and the stupid ban. I too have talked to a few law enforcement folks that have told me to shoot the Cougars if I see them. I actually asked a couple of them what would happen if I killed a dozen of them in a year. The answer was the similar from both of them, "don't tell anyone and nothing will happen, we have better things to do with our time than worry about a dead Cougar" and the other was "who cares, there are way too many of them and you can thank the valley folks for that". I have a plan since the tree huggers like them so much and want to save all of them and have no control as far as their population is concerned. My plan involves trapping them in live traps and turning them loose in the lovely communities such as Salem, Eugene, Portland and all the other Cougar loving communities. Let’s see how Portland reacts when there are a hundred Cougars roaming the streets. Who knows maybe they will thin out the gangs a little? Since you think they only prey on the weak maybe they will take care of some of the homeless people and your property values will go up? Just maybe you can take them into your home like a lost puppy and cuddle with the big kitties! I am sick of the populated areas of the state controlling what goes on in our communities and our part of the state. Another thing I am sick of is all the "valley folks" coming over hear to hunt, please just stay home come hunting season. It amazes me how the "valley folks" won't vote for anything that benefits the people of Eastern Oregon but yet they come by the thousands every fall to hunt. We will get the ban on the use of dogs for hunting Cougars reversed in the next couple of years. Hopefully before someone gets killed or there are not any Deer or Elk left. I will kill every Cougar I can and that is a fact. I know that most of the people around here will also. Give me your address and I will Fed Ex you some meat!

Spanky, thanks for the offer, but I'm a vegetarian. You can ship us a live cougar, though. We'll let it loose nearby. Unlike Eastern Oregonians, we aren't afraid of cougars, even though lots live near us.

We believe in facts. And the facts are that nobody ever has been killed by a cougar in Oregon. You're much more likely to be hurt by a drunk (or undrunk) hunter than a cougar.

There has been one reported cougar attack in Oregon in the last 100 years. No fatalities. The single attack was a bite on the neck and some scratches. Relax. Be more concerned about lightning striking you than a cougar. Read and be reassured:


So if you want to stay safe out there in Eastern Oregon, I suggest you start hunting hunters. Hopefully the law enforcement folks you talked to won't mind if you kill a couple. They sound pretty lax when it comes to enforcing the laws.

Sorry it upsets you so much to have "valley folk" invading your territory. This probably is how Portland people feel when "Eastern Oregon folk" come to the city to use the airport or go shopping. You clog up the freeways even though you don't really appreciate the urban lifestyle and are just passing through.

Call me an idealist, but I like to think that Oregon is one state, and we're all Oregonians. What happens in one part affects another part. It isn't possible to say, "this is our territory and only we get to decide what goes on here."

Cougars don't belong to you or me. They belong to everybody, just like the Portland airport does. If you don't want to have anything to do with western Oregon, great. Be sure to only buy goods that were made, raised, and transported in eastern Oregon.

Guess you'll be eating a lot of venison (or cougar) and living in a log house with no electricity or phone service.

This is an interconnected world. We've got to get used to it.

Cougars need to be KILLED !!! The deer and elk herds are being destroyed !! First to go was the deer, now that the herds of deer are down to nothing, the cougars are wiping out the elk. I counted recently a herd on our ranch of 168 elk only 18 were calves !! At this rate the herd is done, cat kills are everywhere and our local herd stays close to our house for protection because we kill every cat we see. So cougar lovers who cannot see past your noses it is time to wake up and listen. Do you ever listen or believe anyone? The warm fuzzy feeling you have for the cougar is fine , but take some time to see for yourselves rather than sit in your house and dream !

Randy, we don't just sit in our house and dream about cougars. We walk outside and try to find them. See, we're not scared of cougars because we know the facts about them.

Just a few days ago a neighbor said that she saw a cougar on their property. It ran onto our ten acres. My wife went out looking for it.

Now, that might be an excess of bravery (she took our dog along, though), but it's better than being irrationally afraid of the big cats.

So we're practicing what we preach: respect for cougars as part of nature. Big deal, that cougars are killing deer and elk. That's what they've done for many thousands of years. The deer and elk have done just fine.

Hunters want to be able to kill the deer and elk themselves. The animals still would be killed, except now it'd be humans doing it. I'd rather have the cougars do it. Nature knows better how to keep nature balanced than humans do.

Cougars hanging out minding their own business? Only until they kill something. I've lived in the Oregon coast range for nearly 30 years. I live in an area with severe restrictions on occupation of land, so we are not encroaching on habitat. In the time I've lived here, I've watched elk and deer populations dramatically decline - coinciding directly with the restrictions on cougar hunting. For 20 years, I never had contact with cougars - in the last 10 years, I've seen them too many times to count. Since 2003 I've lost 3 highly valued and much loved horses to cougar attacks. Horses in my pasture "minding their own business". The cougar(s) are increasingly bold, coming right into my barn and garage and "marking". Listen to a cougar attacking one of your pets and tell me how terrible it is to reduce their numbers. While no humans have yet been killed, everyone in this area has a story of being stalked, and being very lucky to escape. Should we wait until a rider on the linear park trail is killed before we act? Hopefully, when it happens, it's some bleeding heart vegetarian who lives in the city. Last night I stood on my deck and listened to a cougar scream for half an hour. I was afraid to walk out and check my animals. Then I had a sleepless night listening for an attack . I'm as liberal as anyone living in the "valley" and probably better educated. The ban on cougar hunting with dogs was plain stupid.

brian, stfu, oh my god the poor little deer and elk are dieing, are you fucking kidding me, theres no god damn way cougars could wipe out deer, to every cougar, there's like 200 god damn deer, cougars are CARNIVORES, they eat meat, they eat deers, elk, dogs etc, maybe those animals should toughen up and learn to protect themselves.
do you know how many god damn animal species are going extinct because of humans, tigers, pandas, rhinos, cheetahs to name a few out of thousands, but were not gonna kill the humans are we?? so stfu

and anybody who deosn't think cougars are dangerous, or like a (kity cat) needs to smarten up, lets put you in a room in one and see who comes out alive

hello, my name is cash nichols, I live in oregon and hound hunt. We recently treed the biggest cougar i have ever seen. My dad was taking the dogs back to the truck and I was standing there knowing that I couldnt kill it but also knowing it would be killing at least 10 deer in the next deer, it was so hard for me to leave the tree without killing that thing.

what the heck is wrong with you treehuggers?

I live in Oregon and a ten year old was at the bus stop and he saw a cougar in crouched position. The kid said it was about 6 feet long. The cops said "you do what you have to do to protect your family".We need to be able to hunt cougar with dogs.


I am a biologist but it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that the primary reason that wildlife managers manage (i.e., slaughter) predators is to artificially increase the numbers of game animals, such as deer and elk, for hunters who provide much needed revenue for state fish & game departments, such as ODFW. These agencies even go so far as to provide extra food for deer and elk, to keep those animals' populations up. Then they complain that predators are killing those animals, even though they're only doing what nature intended, trying to survive in their quickly shrinking habitat. Hunters are concerned for the numbers of deer and elk simply because they want to hunt them.

While cougar populations may have increased in portions of their range over the last 3 to 4 decades, the perception that cougars are more abundant in the Western states is based on oral traditions, unvalidated sightings and
unrealistic and unproven models such as those used in Oregon, not on reliable data. They say cougar populations fell in most of the western states in the 1960’s to such low numbers that they were going extinct and are now rebounding out of control. But many wildlife professionals have now seen through this myth; it doesn't take much to invalidate many of the early non-scientific claims and assumptions. Unfortunately, people still rely on unsubstantiated population estimates in Oregon.

Nature has checks and balances and predators are needed to maintain that balance. But when humans intervene and take out top predators, interconnections collapse and ecological catastrophes of immense proportion can happen and are being seen all over the world as the human population explodes and species go extinct. Believe it or not, top predators are very vulnerable because they are at the top of the food chain and are extremely sensitive to disruptions and are easily exterminated. Look at what we did to the lynx. On a philosophical note, I believe that there would not be one animal or plant on this planet that would not breathe a sigh of relief if humans were to vanish tomorrow.

People who farm animals ought to take measures to protect their animals, by using guard dogs and appropriate fencing. Use common sense and keep all companion animals, food bowls, etc., indoors unless under direct supervision, to minimize any attacks on loved ones. Predators ought to be respected and lived WITH, not ignorantly persecuted.

It's very sad that some are so afraid of these majestic predators, and succumb to the ODFW's fear tactics and poor science. A rational and reasonable person has to conclude that cougars represent almost no threat to humans. I would be much more afraid eating meat or getting hit by a car.

A six foot cougar at a bus stop. Hmmm ... As a child I once saw a pink flamingo on our rooftop. LOL.

Sharetheearth, thanks for your informative comment. You make a lot of sense, and I'm not saying that just because I agree with you.

You speak from a base of knowledge and awareness--of how humans should relate to the natural world of which we most certainly are a part.

I just wish everyone had your depth of understanding. In a few days my wife is going to testify against a proposed bill that would encourage even more hunting on public lands.

We've already screwed up the balance of nature enough. It's way past time to leave nature alone and coexist with animals that we have no business killing, or any reason to.

Go to the store if you need food. Fire up a video game if you feel like killing something. And admire cougars (plus deer and elk) for what they are, not as carcasses.

Brian, I just got word that the hearing on H.B. 2971, which is probably what your wife if going testify against (?) has been changed to April 10 at the same time and place (3pm - 5pm, hearing room HR D at the state capitol building). Just wanted to make sure you and others knew of the change.

Thanks for your good words. I appreciate your forum.

You are a loon and not telling the truth.

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