'These cougars were living in an area of high public use'

      EUGENE, Ore. - Wildlife biologists trapped and euthanized a second cougar near Hendricks Park and have set a trap for a third big cat captured on camera entering a chicken coop at a home near the park, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

      Biologists captured an 84-pound female cougar March 10 at a Floral Hill Drive home where the resident had lost 2 goats and 3 chickens to predation over the weekend. The cat was put down.

      Two days later, biologists discovered fresh cougar tracks at the scene. A cage trap caught a 40-pound male late last week.

      The cougar was put down Tuesday, ODFW said.

      The agency does not relocate cougars in the wild due to the animal's territorial nature.

      That doesn't sit well with the head of an environmental group that advocates for predators and is critical of the capture and killing of cougars.

      "It's a full-fledged war on cougars in the state of Oregon," said Brooks Fahy, executive director of Predator Defense. "More cougars are being killed now than in the bounty era."

      The second cat was examined by the state's wildlife veterinarian for possible placement in a zoo or other Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility through a partnership with the Oregon Zoo in Portland.

      Dr. Colin Gillin observed the cougar's behavior in captivity and believed the cat was not a good candidate for captivity.

      "Cougars at this age are already accustomed to living in the wild and are not good candidates for captive environments," Gillin said.

      Now state biologists have set a trap for a third cat photographed by a trail camera.

      "These cougars were living in an area of high public use and were hunting near residences and structures," said Brian Wolfer, ODFW district wildlife biologist in Springfield.

      Under Oregon Revised Statute 498.012, landowners experiencing damage may kill the offending cougar without a permit from ODFW.

      "Although the landowner had a legal right to shoot the cougars, the property's proximity to the park raised concerns that shooting might not be safe," Wolfer said.

      In this situation, ODFW was concerned not just about livestock damage but about potential pet and human safety issues due to the proximity to the city park.

      "Hikers and other park users should remember to keep their dogs on a leash, as the remaining cougar could still be in the area," Wolfer said.