Just when you thought you’d heard the last of it, Mellencamp the cougar is back in the news. There’s an article in today’s Bulletin, more or less reiterating the cougar report on Z21 News last night. It was spotted near Newport Avenue and Fourth, but officials had no luck tracking it.
Last week the Bulletin also ran an interesting article on Jack Spencer, the wildlife specialist for Deschutes County heading up the cougar search. It’s a good read, and shows just how crazy that kind of job is: he’s been bitten by a rattlesnake, caught bubonic plague (!), even tranked himself while trying to get a bear out of a cougar trap. You gotta love that kind of stuff.
The cougar problem will continue, according to the Bulletin. There’s just not enough manpower to devote to it, and in fact there’s only one agent for the “Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services Program” for all of Deschutes County… and he’s tied up with every other wildlife issue that arises.
And this strikes me as funny:
“It is so hard trying to run through back yards and jump fences with these dogs,” Spencer said. “And then you have all these domestic animals so you have to be careful because, as far as dogs are concerned, a cat is a cat.”
Just the image of a guy with a bunch of baying hound dogs running through suburban Awbrey Butte makes me smile.
Meanwhile, Hillside Park is still closed. Near as I can tell, anyway.
Following up my Cougar! coverage from last night… today on The Peak 104.1 radio morning show, they were having people call in to name the cougar. I missed it, but that’s classic. From the clips they were playing later it sounded like somebody suggested “Mellencamp.” That’s just so wrong it’s funny.
And from the So which is it? department, all the local news reports are saying if you encounter the cougar, to not make eye contact, back away slowly, never run, etc. However, in the Wikipedia Puma article (cougars are technically pumas), the advice for an encounter is to stand and face the animal and make eye contact (among other things). Huh.
When mountain lions attack! Apparently there’s a young cougar attempting to establish territory in Bend, primarily on Awbrey Butte and possibly Shevlin Park. This is not unusual for Central Oregon, but the way the local news outlets have been covering this story you’d think the world is ending. I actually find all the hooplah amusing.
Here’s the online rundown:
The Bulletin actually has the better coverage; makes me long for the days of Barney at Bend.com.
Speaking of Barney, KTVZ has been covering the cougar nightly, too. I get a chuckle and shake my head every time I hear them talking about it; something about their delivery, maybe, but when one of the items reported is about a sighting that turned out to be a house cat, well, you just have to laugh.
Look, I’ve lived here most of my life, so to me it’s just not shocking, freaky or worriesome when this type of thing happens, it just gets dealt with. Face it, this isn’t just cougar country, it’s also bear, coyote and rattlesnake country, and that’s not changing anytime soon; this Chicken Little syndrome is getting old.