Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife search crew members yesterday shot the cougar they suspect killed hiker Diana Bober on a Mt. Hood National Forest trail.
According to a release from ODFW, first reported by the Oregonian, the adult female cat was caught on camera traversing the scene of Bober's attack. Three hours later, trained hounds sniffed her out and drove her up a tree, where searchers shot her.
Brian Wolfer, ODFW's watershed manager and the person leading the cougar hunt, said in a press briefing this morning that there is still not confirmation that the cougar the agency shot is the one that killed Bober, but it is a strong possibility. (The agency cited evidence that the animal had walked through the attack scene.)
"We tried to focus on what we know about cougar biology," Wolfer said, "and stay in the zone where the attack occurred."
Wolfer says ODFW search crews had to traverse over 25,000 feet over rugged terrain to track the cougar.
"It was truly a herculean effort on their part," he says.
After shooting the animal around 3 pm yesterday, crews sealed her body in a body bag, "to avoid introducing any contamination," and rushed her on an Oregon State Police airplane to a forensics lab in Ashland, Oregon. DNA results are pending, during which time crews will continue hunting cougars.
"The length of the search will depend on other cougar activity," Wolfer says. "We believe the cougar that killed Diana is a safety risk. It's really not common for a cougar to attack a person."
Wolfer says he is determined to track down the "offending animal" to ensure that no other lives are lost. (They don't believe the cougar they killed has kittens, since she wasn't lactating.)
"This has been a tremendously emotional week for me," he says. "There have been things that I've had to do and see that have been very difficult.
"A person lost their life here. Diana had people that loved her. There are people that are going to miss her, and we have every responsibility to make sure no other family is going to go through that. "