A hunt for the cougar that attacked and killed Oregon hiker Diana Bober in the Mt. Hood National Forest begins tomorrow.
In a press conference today, streamed by the Oregonian, Brian Wolfer, Oregon Fish and Wildlife's watershed manager, said the agency has spent the day "planning and working with partners."
"Active attempts to capture the cougar," he says, "we fully expect to begin tomorrow morning."
KGW-TV reports that wildlife officials will use hounds to track the cougar's scent.
For one nearby school, Welches Elementary, the attack is extremely close to home. The school is located less than five miles from Hunchback Mountain, and some have raised concerns about the safety of children on the playground—which is protected by a six-foot tall fence.
"Cougars are very athletic," Wolfer notes. "They can jump great distances and great heights and they can jump a six-foot fence. That being said, if you have kids out on a playground in a group and they're being monitored by teachers and staff and they're out in a group, that is a tremendous deterrent. We really don't see instances of cougars going into areas crowded with people."
Since Bober's body was discovered on Sept. 10, the Hunchback Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest where she was hiking has been closed. Bober's death marks the first-ever fatal wild cougar attack in state history.
Wolfer says the proliferation of cougars in Oregon (there are currently more than 6,600 estimated in the state) is the result of conservation efforts that begin in the 1960s. At that time, there were only around 200 cougars in Oregon.
"It's been a great conservation success story," Wolfer says. "That means cougars are at times living in proximity to people."
For Oregon hikers worried about future excursions, the search and rescue non-profit Mountain Wave also published a list of actions to take should you encounter a cougar. In short, the notice says, stare the cat down, stay put and make yourself look large.