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Cougar sighting spooks homeowner

Aaron Hudson walked behind the travel trailer next to his house early Monday morning and heard a loud sound from above.

After another loud noise, something hitting the ground, Hudson saw a cougar leap over the fence into the neighbor's yard. Seconds earlier it had been about four feet way.

"The damn thing was sitting up on my travel trailer watching the neighbor's dog," Hudson said. "I guess I spooked it. Right the hell here in town. That thing wasn't afraid. It scared the … out of me."

It's a heads-up for pet owners in the area. Cougar sightings are not rare in Josephine County, but this one came in a residential neighborhood in south Grants Pass, the 2000 block of Haviland Drive in the Grandview-Cloverlawn area.

Rosemary Stussy, assistant district wildlife biologist in Central Point, said cougars have been seen in that part of town before, because of its proximity to forested hills.

And for another reason.

"I've been here 12 years and when I think of Cloverlawn and Fruitdale, I think deer feeding central," Stussy said. "They feed deer like crazy in there. That's not the first cougar there.

"Most people know what they're seeing when they look at a cougar," she added, when asked if she thought the sightings were accurate.

Hudson said he found blood, deer hair and tracks three months ago, after hearing what he assumed was a cougar downing a deer. Neighbors have also mentioned seeing a cougar, Stussy said, including one caller from nearby Mayfield Drive.

The ODFW generally gets more than 100 complaints a year about damage from cougars, typically involving small livestock, in Jackson and Josephine counties. In 2014 there were 118 complaints, and 17 cougars were killed in connection with these complaints. Another 33 cougars were killed by hunters in the two counties in 2014.

For more information, call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 541-826-8774.

Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or jduewel@thedailycourier.com.