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Cougars Reported Near Bend, Sunriver

ODFW has expanded the statewide cougar hunting quota by nearly 25% for 2015.
ODFW has expanded the statewide cougar hunting quota by nearly 25% for 2015.

Several mountain lion sightings have been reported in Sunriver in the past month.The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife killed a cougar after it was spotted in the heart of Bend last month.

ODFW says there's never been an attack on a human by a wild cougar in Oregon. But the population is growing, and the agency takes measures when the big cats appear in urban areas. Last month, wildlife advocates criticized cougar managers for euthanizing a mountain lion found in a Bend neighborhood.

"We don't think that moving a cat in that situation would be responsible wildlife management and yes, we do err on the side of public safety," says Michelle Dennehy spokeswoman with Oregon Fish and Wildlife.

"We are unwilling to put the public at risk by relocating adult cougars," says Dennehy.

ODFW says that particular cougar was young, and had it been moved, stood a high chance of being killed by an older, territorial male. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates 900 mountain lions live in Central Oregon, with at least 6,000 statewide.

In the 1960s, there were only 200 cougars in all of Oregon. Since then, mountain lions have been making a comeback. Following the voter-approved ban on hound hunting of cougars in 1994, the population of wild cougars in Oregon has doubled.

Cougars are extremely secretive and it's rare to spot one in Oregon. But if you do encounter a mountain lion, here's what ODFW recommends:

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Amanda Peacher