Wild animal encounters higher this time of year

Wild animal encounters higher this time of year

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by Keely Chalmers, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 8:36 PM

GRESHAM, Ore. -- A neighbor near 167th place and Northeast Hoyt in Gresham reported seeing a cougar Monday morning, marking one of several recent wild animal sightings in the metro area.

The Gresham man called police shortly after 5 a.m. and officers searched the area for the big cat, to no avail.

“We see an occasional coyote walk up and down the street,” said neighbor Greg Hartung. “I'll have to watch my back I guess, our backs.”

This sighting came just one day after two people claim they saw a cougar in Portland's Mill Park neighborhood just a few miles away and days after multiple people reported seeing a cougar at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Hillsboro.

Rick Swart with The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said none of the cougar sightings have been confirmed.

But wildlife officers do have proof of at least two bear encounters.

Last week in Washougal, a family took photos of a bear trying to get into their dumpster.  And earlier this month, KGW got video of a bear in Northeast Portland.

So are we seeing more wild animals in town? Not necessarily according to ODFW.

“The first thing we need to understand is that we have a lot of green space and so the wild animals are here all the time,” said Swart.

He explained that the animals are just moving around more this time of year and looking for food. He said there has never been a report of a cougar attacking a human being, although he said livestock and pets have been attacked in the past.

He would like people to take photos if they see a cougar as long as they can do so without risking their safety.  He said those people should also call 911.

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