Talent cops shoot, kill injured cougar

Authorities believe the mountain lion, lurking near an apartment complex, had been hit by a vehicle

TALENT — Talent police shot and killed a female cougar Tuesday that appeared to have been severely injured.

The cougar had been spotted twice during the afternoon and evening, and police determined the animal was a public-safety threat.

"It wasn't afraid of the people around it, which is concerning when you have an animal that's in a city," said Sgt. Jennifer Snook of the Talent Police Department.

The first sighting of the big cat, near an apartment complex at 233 Eva Way, came in at about noon.

"We went out there and looked around and couldn't find it," Snook said.

At 5 p.m., the cougar was spotted at another apartment complex nearby at 220 Holiday Lane, just around the corner from the Eva Way complex. No menacing behavior was reported in either sighting.

On the second call, witnesses said the animal was leaning against a house and did not look like it intended to leave. When police responded, they saw the animal had been injured. Its upper hip and hindquarters were bloodied, leading responders to believe it might have been struck by a car.

"It's obvious that it was injured," Snook said. "Even if it wanted to leave, it was not able to do so."

Snook said police could not get in touch with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, so they killed the animal.

"It was the right call," said Mark Vargas, ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist. "Our agency would not have relocated it anyway."

ODFW officials retrieved the animal's body Wednesday for further analysis. Vargas said the cougar weighed 52 pounds and was about 69 inches long. Its injuries included a dislocated knee and a 4-inch circle of missing hide.

"It's pretty major trauma. I'm going to assume it was a vehicle," Vargas said. "It was pretty extensive."

Vargas said ODFW gets calls about cougar sightings year- round, even though the animals typically try to stay hidden.

"Cougars are probably in city limits often, it's just that people rarely see them," he said.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

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