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Police kill cougar in Ashland

File photo. Ashland police killed a 60-pound male cougar that encountered people near Walker Avenue Friday morning. The decision to kill the animal was made after consulting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Ashland police killed a cougar Friday that refused to leave a person’s property and was believed to be a danger to people.

At 8:28 a.m. Friday, an Ashland resident called police to report that a cougar was in their garbage cans and had encountered the caller’s friend near a home above Siskiyou Boulevard, according to Ashland police Chief Tighe O’Meara.

The cougar didn’t run off after seeing the person during daylight hours, which was the first of multiple signs that the animal had no fear of humans, according to O’Meara, and was therefore a safety concern.

“Normally that by itself would scare it away,” O’Meara said.

An Ashland police officer tried to scare the cat away, including by using a police cruiser siren, but the cat was unphased, O’Meara said. The animal refused to leave its perch underneath an elevated porch.

An officer consulted with biologists at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife before deciding that police needed to “lethally remove the animal,” according to O’Meara.

“That just creates too much of a risk to human safety to let it pass,” said O’Meara, adding that it’s a decision police never make lightly.

The cougar was a male weighing 60 pounds, according to ODFW Rogue District wildlife biologist Steve Niemela. The animals are typically nocturnal, and normally show fear of humans.

“With the cougar just feet away from the resident’s friend during daylight and showing no signs of fear and not responding to hazing efforts, human safety was an issue, and this was the right decision,” Niemela stated in a news release.

There are about 6,000 cougars across Oregon. ODFW recommends people who encounter a cougar stay calm, maintain eye contact and back away slowly. Do not run.

A cougar will typically retreat if given the opportunity. If a child is nearby, a person should pick up the child without bending down or turning their back on the animal.

For more information see dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/cougars.asp