Dunn Forest north of Corvallis remained closed on Sunday, the day after a visitor reported an encounter with an aggressive cougar.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and partnering agencies continued to search for the mountain lion on Sunday using dogs trained to pick up scents, but the large cat has not been found, according to a post from Sunday afternoon on the Oregon State University Research Forests Facebook page.
“Dry conditions make it more difficult to pick up scent,” the post stated.
Signage about the closure and cougar encounter, as well as safety tips, were posted at four gates for the forest along Tampico Road, west of Adair Village.
Barbara Todd, who lives nearby on Soap Creek Road, came to check out the closure on the Dunn Forest 400 road, near Andrews Lane, which is the closest gate to her house. She acknowledged she was a little bit worried about the mountain lion.
“They have a fairly large roaming area. We’re on the back side of McDonald Forest,” Todd said.
She and her family have lived in the area for four months, and they’ve already seen deer, owls and even a lynx, but no cougars.
Still, they’ve already been taking precautions to keep themselves safe, such as not walking around at night and not letting pets roam. And daughter Kellie Speck said she never hikes alone.
“If you live in the woods, you have to expect some of this,” Speck said.
“I love it out here, but this is just the cost of living on the back side of a forest,” she added.
Nearby McDonald Forest remained open on Saturday and Sunday, and parking lots close to Peavy Arboretum were packed with hikers and other locals taking advantage of the holiday weekend.
Jogger Fred Van Beek of Bellfountain said he wasn’t overly concerned after learning of the cougar report on Sunday afternoon.
“I’m more concerned with driving on the highway and having somebody hit me than getting got by a cougar out in the woods,” Van Beek said.
Still, he said he knows mountain lions are out there.
According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife warning signs posted at Dunn Forest gates, if you encounter a cougar you should never approach it for any reason.
Try to make yourself appear large by raising your hands, holding your coat open or raising your hands. Do not bend over or crouch down, and hold small children.
Fight back if you are attacked.
When enjoying the outdoors, make noise to reduce the chance of surprising a cougar or other predator.
Always keep children close and in sight.
Residents should also avoid hiking alone, according to the warning signs.
A Facebook post from Saturday indicated that the OSU Research Forests were working with the Oregon State Police, as well.
Attempts to contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Adair Village office, Oregon State Police and the Oregon State University Research Forests were unsuccessful on Sunday.
Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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