Animals

Cougar warnings posted in Powell Butte Nature Park

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Several warning signs are now posted at the Powell Butte Nature Park in Southeast Portland after a cougar was spotted this past Sunday.

Kenton Wiens was mountain biking on Powell Butte when he suddenly realized he wasn't alone.

"Right there in front of me, about 40 yards up, I saw a cougar bound onto the path," Wiens told KOIN 6 News.

The big cat's head was hidden in the grass and shrubs to the side of the trail, but Wiens could see his huge flank and long, powerful tail. Seconds later, it was gone.

Wiens went back down the trail and reported the sighting to Portland Parks & Recreation. Park rangers put up warning signs to help keep hikers on their toes.

Mark Ross with Portland Parks & Recreation confirmed to KOIN 6 News the signs are there, and added that is the only report they've received about a cougar in the park.

Ross said officials with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife were notified.

Agencies will post temporary signs when there's a cougar sighting, Ross told KOIN 6 News. This cougar was spotted along the Summit Lane trail and signs are now posted in that area. There are also signs along the Springwater Corridor near Gresham, he said.

Michelle Dennehy with ODFW said they get more concerned if a cougar is seen repeatedly in one area. In that case, they may trap and euthanize it, she said.

She added it's not uncommon for cougars to be spotted in parks like Powell Butte. 

"I hope I don't see any," Yesenia Althaua told KOIN 6 News Friday. But she said the warning won't stop her from walking in the park but she plans to keep her children close.

"I told them we have to stay together, according to the sign we have to walk with a companionship," she said.

Wiens said his close encounter with a big cat is something he won't forget.

"They are very good at being concealed and try to avoid us for the most part," he said. "It's kind of exciting in another sense that Powell Butte is able to sustain some populations of very interesting animals and that's great."

Cougars have been spotted in and around more urban areas of Oregon over the past few years. ODFW said there are more than 6000 cougars around the state. They're normally afraid of humans but they are predators known to kill pets and livestock.

In the not-distant past, cougars have been reported in Silverton, Tigard, Seaside, Sandy, Albany and La Pine.

KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day.


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