A Corvallis man reportedly became lost in Oregon State University’s Dunn Research Forest overnight last week after fleeing an aggressive cougar.
A Benton County Sheriff’s Office incident log said a 25-year-old man reported on Sept. 12 a cougar encounter near the 540 gate alongside Highway 99W near Adair Village.
The incident came just over a week after a cougar was killed in the forest near the Soap Creek Valley. That killing came a few days after a jogger reported a cougar aggressively approached him until he kicked it; the jogger said the cat stalked him as he fled the encounter.
The man in the more recent incident reportedly told a deputy told deputy that he had walked into the forest and smoked a bowl of marijuana and then encountered the cat. The man said that the cougar growled or hissed at him, but it fled when he yelled at it. The man then ran from the incident as well.
He told authorities he became lost as he fled and dropped his keys, cellphone, wallet, sandals, marijuana pipe and cigarettes. The man was not able to find his way back to the gate until 5:30 the next morning and then he called deputies. The deputies were able to locate the man’s sandals, keys and cigarettes, but not his other possessions.
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An OSU official said the forest remains open, but cougar sighting signs have been posted near the location of the encounter. OSU closed the forest on Aug. 31 after the earlier encounter with the jogger.
Michelle Dennehy, communications coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the official response in the most recent case was different because the cougar fled when the man yelled.
“The reporter in this case said that when he yelled at the cougar, it ran away. This is more normal cougar behavior so we don’t believe this cougar is a human safety threat. We posted signs to remind people about cougar safety tips but no other actions (such as trapping and removal) are planned at this time,” she said.
She added that department staff still believes the cougar they killed Sept. 4 was the same animal that attacked the jogger.
“Based on the physical description of cougar in the last incident, we still believe we got the right one,” she said.