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Hunters report being stalked by cougars, 9/17/08

 
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Hunters report being stalked by cougars, 9/17/08 Reply with quote

Hunters report being stalked by cougars

http://www.argusobserver.com/articles/2008/09/17/news/doc48d13e73a2373562920677.txt

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 11:24 AM PDT


BAKER CITY (AP) — Stories of hunters being stalked by cougars in Northeastern Oregon have raised concerns that the big cats may be losing their fear of humans.

Last month, Sebastian Combs, a 28-year-old ranch hand from the Haines area, reported being stalked by a cougar along the North Powder River. He was in a tree stand 12 feet from the ground scouting for big game, he said, when he saw a pair of eyes staring at him from a patch of brush.

‘‘At first I thought it was a deer or elk,’’ he said, ‘‘but when I put my binoculars on it, I saw it was a cougar.’’

As Combs made his way toward a road where his father picked him up, he said, the cat was within 70 feet.

Days later, bow hunter Chad Davis of Hermiston killed a cougar with an arrow after the cat came within 15 yards of him, he said.



The cat had been edging closer to Davis’ tree stand for hours. When it moved under his tree stand, Davis shot it through the shoulder.

The cat fled, and then collapsed about 50 yards later.

‘‘They’re everywhere,’’ Davis said.

The state’s cougar population has doubled since 1994, the year hunting cougars with hounds was banned, according to the state’s fish and wildlife department.

Don Whittaker, a cougar specialist with the state’s fish and wildlife department, said Oregon now has about 6,000 cougars.

Cougar populations in northeastern Oregon are especially thick, said James Cadwell, a state wildlife biologist based in Union County.

‘‘In the past 12 years we’ve had more sightings, more public safety concerns and more damage complaint calls,’’ he said.

Many of the complaints come from cattlemen, sheep ranchers and people whose pets are killed by cougars.
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