ASHLAND, Ore. — The Ashland Police Department says that it shot and killed a cougar within the Ashland city limits after it settled outside of a home, showing no fear of humans.
Officers responded Friday morning after an Ashland resident called to report that afriend had gone outside of the home and encountered a cougar "in the garbage cans" outside. The cougar did not run away, which the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife said is normal behavior when cougars see people.
When police arrived, the cougar had settled under the home's elevated porch. It did not seem perturbed by the presence of the officers, and was not scared away when police used sirens. After consulting with ODFW, Ashland Police decided it was time to kill the cougar due to safety concerns.
“The decision to put an animal down is never easy. The City of Ashland appreciates its long-standing partnership with ODFW and the support ODFW brings as difficult decisions such as this are made,” said Tighe O’Meara, Ashland Police Chief.
ODFW’s Steve Niemela, Rogue District Wildlife Biologist, supported the decision.
“Cougars normally display fear of humans and are nocturnal animals. 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 said.
The cougar was a 60-pound male, ODFW said.
Oregon is home to more than 6,000 cougars, and there are relatively frequent sightings in Jackson County. In 2018, Ashland Police shot at a cougar on the Southern Oregon University campus but did not kill it. Medford Police killed a cougar in 2019 after it was spotted around E Barnett Road and N Riverside Avenue.