Oregon City, OR – A 55-year-old woman who was hiking on a trail near Mt. Hood has become the first recorded fatality in the state’s history resulting from a cougar attack.
Diana Bober was reported missing on September 7 and she had not been heard from by relatives or friends since August 29. It was known that she was fond of hiking steep terrain near Mt. Hood.
Her body was found off of the Hunchback Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest in Welches on Sept.10.
“According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Ms. Bober’s injuries are consistent with a suspected cougar attack. Positive identification of the responsible genus of animal will be determined using DNA samples that have been flown by the Oregon State Police to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland,” the Clackamus County Sheriff’s office said.
The Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is participating in the investigation and is tracking the cougar.
Police have notified Oregon Trail School District has been contacted and made aware of the incident.
Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife stated her injuries were constant with a cougar attack.
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our sympathy goes out to Diana’s family and friends,” said Brian Wolfer, ODFW watershed manager. “All of us at ODFW are thinking of you today.”
“This event is the first verified fatal attack by a wild cougar in Oregon. Wildlife managers will attempt to kill the cougar responsible for the attack,” said Wolfer.
Evidence from the scene has been sent to the wildlife lab in Ashland, Oregon for analysis.
Currently, Oregon has about 6,600 cougars of all age classes found throughout the state, authorities said.
“ODFW tracks conflicts with cougars—situations where they kill livestock or pets or threaten human safety by being in town repeatedly in daylight. Complaints have averaged more than 400 per year statewide for the last several years.”
Cougars can be killed by landowners or law enforcement when they cause agricultural damage or human safety issues.
They can also be hunted.
“This is an unprecedented event in Oregon, we are asking people to avoid this area while we attempt to remove this cougar,” said Wolfer. “We don’t know what risk it poses to the public.”
Sgt. Brian Jensen of Clackamus County provided the following safety guidance:
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
• Hike in groups.
• Keep your dog close to you or on a leash.
• Make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.
• Keep children close to you.
• Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
If you encounter a cougar in the wild, you should:
• Stay calm and stand your ground.
• Maintain direct eye contact.
• Pick up any children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the cougar.
• Back away slowly.
• Do not run. Running triggers a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.
• Raise your voice and speak firmly.
• If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.
• If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any other items available.