Major revisions in the management of Oregon's cougars were in the works in 2005 in Oregon wildlife law, although the information was very difficult to find on the ODFW website until (October 11, 2005); that's when a new website revision went into effect at ODFW, and the new cougar/mountain lion management plan hit "front page/center" of the ODFW Home page..... Most notably, in the ODFW propsed new management plan, there is much-increased acknowledgement of the escalating conflict and potential dangers of cougars in Oregon.
Here is a link to the webpages that describe ODFW's proposed cougar management plan for Oregon: (Please be aware: if you click their link "View and download the cougar management plan," your computer will download a huge PDF file of 108 pages in length, and if you hit "print all" you will need to have a lot of paper handy!).
Important Note if you
have current Cougar concerns!
As you read their material, you ought to know that if you or your neighbors are worried about any cougar sightings in your area, draft policy states that ODFW will act rather decisively to protect you, your pets and your livestock--- but only if certain conditions are met. See pages 93-94 in the above document.
The phone number of the ODFW main office in Salem is: 503-947-6000, or 1-800-720-ODFW. Their address is 3406 Cherry Ave. NE, Salem, OR 97303. Email is email@example.com
In relation to the above "Incident response" plan, I thought that I would share two of the very recent, local cougar reports that my readers have sent to me. (permission has been obtained to share these two reports):
First, a report from a woman
living near Estacada:
"I live in the foothills of Goat Mountain in (near) Estacada, Oregon, and last August (2005) I saw a cougar sitting, looking right at me, about 150 feet away in our field at Noon. Then again a few days ago (late September 2005), I saw one again in the same area at 5:00 pm. This time I got a much better look at it, because it was moving instead of just sitting.
I have my video camera ready to go, so hopefully I can get it on tape, or a picture!
We've been here for 12 years now, and up till now all we've seen are deer, coyote and bear.
Our neighbors have seen them too."
Second, a report from a man who hunts in the Coast Range near Dallas,
Oregon. This sighting occurred the evening of October 9th, 2005:
"Hello, My name is Vince, I've been an Oregon resident for 36 years. Don't know if the experience I had today is of any help but it certainly will change hunting for me!
I have hunted the Oregon coast range for 24 years, mainly outside of Falls City Oregon (Black Rock), and the last 10 years on ___(Vince doesn't want to reveal his favorite hunting location near the old town of Valsetz). Both areas are within miles of each other. The last 10 years I have noticed a HUGE increase in bobcat spottings, considering I never had seen one the previous 14 years. Now yes, better optics, more knowledge, patience so forth could play a factor but none the less I been seeing almost double as each year passes.
Anyways, to the good stuff. Today (October 9th) was a typical morning in that I got up at 5 am and my hunting partner Nathan picked me up to spend the day scouting elk and hopefully finding a nice buck for one of us. The day was a good day in that we seen a good amount of deer and hiked 4 closed roads thruout the day. This evening we chose ____(location) to hike down and wait till dark. As we glassed the hillside only one deer was seen and it became too dark to continue so we made our way back up to the truck. We started the truck went around one corner from where we were and I seen something in the skyline that just did not look right. It was the BIGGEST cat I had ever seen with its front paws perched ever so macho on a stump! Now Nathan, my hunting buddy has a cougar tag but hey , we have all had cougar tags thruout the years but never seen one when we needed too so I quit buying them. Since I spotted the cougar and the approaching darkness Nathan could not see it until it made a suttle (subtle) pass on the skyline before disappearing. This cat "Had" to be 6-7 feet long , and then there was the tail to boot. Any chance we could have been dinner? Are cougars nocturnal? After all, we had hiked that road in at daylight earlier in the day (did it watch us?) haha. I guess what I am saying is that this cat we seen in the skyline did not appear to be scared in the least bit, It walked with such confidence and when I first spotted it that it almost appeared to have a smile on its face ( prolly (probably) panting), hell, I don't know. I find it hard to believe ALL the areas I glass in a year I have never seen one. This thing was so big I could not miss seeing it if it was on a hillside let alone walking. A truly memorable experince that will forever leave me looking over my shoulder from now on up there. Talking to hunting friends over the last few years they have similar stories and increased concern about the population. I dont know what the answer is but I do feel there is a place for cougars and other nuisiance wildlife in this world, but somewhat regulated. Anyways I wanted so much to tell someone my story and please I hope I did not bother you with this story. A truly breathtaking experience for me and my hunting partner. I could see this cat walking in the plains of Africa , but not in Valsetz oregon let alone the same place we hunt religiously for 10 years. Any chance that cat lives in the immediate area? Anyways, hoping to hear from you." Vince
Expansion of both the range and population of Oregon Cougars still continuing.
ODFW now acknowledges that the range of cougars in Oregon covers the entire State. Although their estimate of the annual growth rate of the number of cougars has decreased from 8-12% a few years ago, to 5% per year, this still amounts to something like 250 new cougars per year, whereas the number killed (harvested) by hunters in the past few years continues to increase slightly, up to approximately 250 in 2004. The number of so-called "Cougar Damage Complaints" registered by ODFW during 2004 stayed approximately steady at 853 complaints. Winnowing through a maze of statistics and math, it looked to me as though the number of cougars destroyed in 2004 was about the same as in 1999, or perhaps a little less (in 1999 the number was 128, or an average of one animal destroyed every three days, year-round).
Amazing Material Quoted from ODFW site:
" The Commission preliminarily approved a proposal to expand the area where hunters may hunt with an additional cougar tag to include all of eastern Oregon for the 2005 general season.
· A 3 percent increase in hunt quotas to 579 animals was preliminarily approved for 2005 in an effort to maintain the statewide cougar population at about 3,100 animals, the level in 1994. Currently biologists estimate about 5,000 cougars are in Oregon. "
My Comments about the above--- the language above is linguistically confusing to me, because reducing the cougar population by 40% doesn't seem to fit the definition of "maintaining." In fact, reducing cougars from 5,100 to 3,100 animals would represent a spectacular 8-fold increase in the number of cougars killed by hunters! With the hunter success rate staying steady at a dismal 1-2%, it seems to me an unobtainable fantasy to reduce cougar populations this radically without going back to hunting with dogs...and I can find no hint that that is being considered.. .. Source: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2004/releases/122.asp
Oregon's neighbor State to the north is Washington, which has a rather different approach to cougar management. A key thing is that its management plan has never dropped hunting with hounds (although open, generalized use of hounds by the general public is restricted, hounds are encouraged and blessed for special, "commission authorized" hunts, and for use to control cougars on known problem areas). Here is a link to the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). One long-time hunter who regularly hunts both cougar and bear with hounds (often under contract with private entitites such as timber companies who own their own land), stated to me that he felt Washington's policies were much more effective at controlling cougar problems. He also stated that he was worried that in Oregon the deer populations were being increasingly shifted away from the backcountry and into the rural/suburban fringes due to ever-increasing hunting pressure by cougars in the backcountry.
***Please be aware that I am not a wildlife biologist, nor a government official of any kind. The information that I collect, and the ideas I advance, are best taken as those of a knowledgeable lay person. I seek to increase public awareness and facilitate constructive solutions without being seen as myself an expert or policy-maker.