ZIGZAG, Ore. — A spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife defended the agency’s strategy of killing a cougar believed to be responsible for the death of a Gresham woman.
Brian Wolfer, watershed manager for ODFW, cited public safety and the pain the family of 55-year-old Diana Bober has suffered as reasons for the hunt. ODFW officials shot and killed a female cougar on Friday afternoon near where Bober was killed.
“Diana had people that loved her. There are people that are going to miss her. And we have every responsibility to make sure no other family is going to go through that,” Wolfer said.
Bober was found dead on Sept. 10 off the Hunchback Trail area of Mount Hood National Forest, near Welches. She was reported missing on Aug. 29.
The medical examiner's office said Bober's injuries were consistent with that of a cougar attack. The fatal attack would be the first by a wild cougar in Oregon history. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is working to determine the animal that attacked Bober.
Since the discovery, ODFW officials set up a plan to find and kill the cougar believed to have attacked Bober. Officials said search teams do not have the means to trap the cougar in rugged terrain and bring it to a secure location to test its DNA. So, the group is searching for cougars near the area where Bober was found dead, and when they encounter one, killing it, then testing for DNA.
That strategy has been criticized by many on social media.
But Wolfer, in an emotional, choked up response during a Saturday morning press conference, said he wants to make sure no other family has to go through the pain Bober’s family has had to deal with.
“As hard as this has been on our crews, and as hard as this has been on me, it pales in comparison to what they are going through and the loss they’ve had,” Wolfer said.
Wolfer said Bober’s family has been respectful of the agency’s operation.
“What I told them and what I would tell the people of Oregon is that we have to ensure that no other family is going to go through what they go through,” he said.
Wolfer said there’s a “strong possibility” the female cougar shot and killed on Friday was the cougar believed to have killed Bober. It will take at least three days for the agency to get DNA test results to confirm the identity of the cougar.
Wildlife officials will not pursue another a cougar on Saturday, citing fatigue from the previous two days’ search. They will spend the day determining if there are additional cougars in the area that could have killed Bober.