PORTLAND, Ore --- A wild cougar was captured and euthanized in NortheastPortland Friday because it had roamed into the city and lost fear of people, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The cougar was hiding in a tall cedar tree in Mike Carnavili's back yard. It stayed there for more than three hours and watched police below until it was successfully tranquilized by wildlife officials.
They tranquilized him and he fell down. He didn't get hurt so I thought that was it, Carnavili said.
Then, it was placed in a cage and euthanized a short time later, said Meg Kenagy with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The cougar was euthanized because it had lost its fear of people, explained Kenagy. They're territorial so it would likely be pushed out of any new forest area and would move into another urban area.
The animal was spotted around 2:45 Friday afternoon by Monica Padillas, who said she screamed and ran inside to call police.
We looked up and [gasp] there was this huge tail and a paw and a monstrous cat, she said.
Roads were blocked near the cougar's location, in the 2900 block of Northeast 121st Avenue, for nearly four hours. Police officers also went house-to-house and advised everyone to stay inside with their doors and windows closed.
Wildlife officials found the big cat and shot it with a tranquilizing dart around 5:45 p.m. By 6 p.m., the sedated cougar was safely out of the tree and in a cage, then euthanized a short time later.
Some area residents were quite upset when they heard that the animal was not relocated.
I think they could have done better, said neighbor Lewis Waldenburg. I would have thought they could have organized a better situation than euthanizing him.
The wildlife veterinarian explained that while the state does sometimes relocate young cougars with success, this particular cougar was already too old and set in his patterns.
Kenagy said a necropsy will be performed to determine if there were disease issues that may have caused the cougar to leave the wild and roam so far into the city.
Several people had reported seeing a cougar in Hillsboro, East Portland and Gresham over the last week, but this was the first time wildlife officials were able to capture it.
A woman who lives near Southeast 167th Avenue believes her pet house cat was killed by a cougar last week. She said the 18-pound cat's remains were found and it was clear that a cougar had killed her.
Wildlife officials said it's not uncommon for wild animals to roam out of their normal territories this time of year, searching for food.
It's estimated there are now over 5,000 cougars living in Oregon and most of them are close by, in the Cascade Range.
There were also two recent bear sightings in Portland. One of the bears was tranquilized and relocated. In the other case, neighbors were told to lock up their trash cans. Wildlife officials said the bear will likely leave the area when food is no longer so easy to get.