An adult female cougar was shot and killed by wildlife officials at approximately. 3:15 p.m. today on the Hunchback Mtn Trail Area of Mt. Hood National Forest.
The cougar’s carcass is now being transported by Oregon State Police to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland. The laboratory will analyze evidence from the cougar killed today and compare it with evidence received earlier this week (from the scene where Diana Bober was killed). The goal is to determine whether or not the cougar killed today is the cougar that killed Diana.
The female cougar was not lactating, meaning she is not currently caring for kittens.
After finding no sign of the cougar in the area of the Hunchback Mtn Trail yesterday, USDA Wildlife Services personnel started today’s search area to the west of the Hunchback Mtn trail. At approximately 9:20 a.m., a cougar walked in front of a remote camera that crews had deployed earlier this week just a few feet from where Diana Bober’s backpack was picked up on Hunchback Mtn Trail.
“Setting up our communications logistics system earlier this week really paid off today,” said Brian Wolfer, the ODFW watershed manager leading the capture effort. “Thanks to a tremendous effort by the ODFW team and our partners, we were able to quickly get this information to the team on the ground and get them back to the Hunchback Mtn Trail.”
USDA Wildlife Services personnel along with their dogs and mules hiked back to where they could be picked up and transported back to the Hunchback Trailhead . They were back at the site where Diana’s backpack was found about three hours after the cougar’s visit to the site. The hounds were able to pick up the scent and trail the cougar until it went up into a tree around 3 p.m. today, when it was then shot with a rifle.
“We don’t know if this is the cougar responsible, but we do know that this cougar was at the attack site today,” said Brian Wolfer, the ODFW watershed manager leading the effort. “We are doing all we can to confirm as quickly as possible whether this is the animal responsible.”
ODFW expects it will take at least three days before any results are available.
Until ODFW receives confirmation that the cougar killed is the right one, staff from ODFW and other involved agencies will remain in the Zigzag area and continue to search for cougars. If another cougar is encountered, it may be killed and also tested for evidence. The continued effort is intended to increase the probability that the offending cougar has been caught.
ODFW will host a press conference tomorrow, Saturday Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. in the Hunchback Trailhead parking lot. Members of the media planning to attend should text Michelle Dennehy or Rick Swart tomorrow morning.