SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon wildlife officials with guns and dogs are preparing to search for a cougar believed to have killed a woman on rugged terrain in the shadow of the state's highest peak.
Brian Wolfer of the state wildlife department said if a cougar is tracked down, wildlife officials will kill it and then check for a DNA match with DNA left on hiker Diana Bober, 55, whose body was found Monday almost two weeks after she was last heard from.
Wolfer acknowledged that other cougars might be killed, but said killing and testing is the only option and that capturing a mountain lion in the steep terrain isn't an option.
Bober's death marked the first fatal attack by a wild cougar in Oregon and the second in the Pacific Northwest this year.
Investigators have sent DNA from the attack to the National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Lab in Ashland.
Lab Director Ken Goddard said the scientists have the ability to individualize different species like cougars, bears and wolves because of their databases on the animals.
He said the lab has been in Ashland since 1986. Since then, he's only dealt with cases from four fatal animal attacks, including this one.
"It's a rare event fortunately for us humans, but every now and then humans trespass into wildlife habitats where the predator is either looking for food or protecting territory or protecting a mate or cubs," Goddard said.
He said since the case is a top priority, he expects to send back results to investigators this week.