FOURTH COUGAR HUNTED DOWN
February 20, 2001 11:00 pm

A 150-pound male cougar was killed near Erb Lane and Gardiner Ridge Road after killing five sheep in five weeks.

That cougar had been a real problem for us up there for more than a month, Patrick Erb told The Pilot Monday.

He killed five of our sheep over the last five weeks and had been spotted near Upper Chetco School, Erb said.

Erb said he had been concerned the big cat might attack his two boys, Tyler, 13, and Cory Wilson, 10, as they walked to the school bus.

When we found the last sheep he killed, it was obvious it hadnt been chewed on so we knew he would come back to it. I called Cricket Peyton and he came out with his dogs.

Peyton, of Wildlife Services, tracked the cat and killed it near the old pump house three miles up the North Bank Chetco River Road.

The cougar was the fourth to be tracked down and killed by Peyton in or near the Brookings-Harbor area in the last two months.

The last cougar Peyton tracked and killed was a 120-pound female cougar that killed a goat on the Rainbow Rock property of Gene and Shirley Wood.

Wood surprised the cougar near a road on his property the morning of Jan. 26. When he stopped to observe the cougar it jumped the fence and bounded over the hood of the truck, he said.

Peyton and his dogs tracked that cat from approximately 7:39 p.m. that night until about 4:30 a.m. the next morning.

Peyton is one of three trackers in Oregon who are paid by the state to protect livestock and human life.

In a recent Associated Press story out of Salem, Oregon Wildlife Biologist Bill Castillo said reports of close encounters between cougars and people are increasing.

We even have reports of cougars within the city limits of Eugene and Springfield, an area that had no cougars just a few years ago, Castillo said.

Statewide, he said, complaints about the cats have risen from 700 in 1999 to more than 900.

A cougars main threat is to pets and livestock, and they rarely approach people, Castillo said. As more generations of cougars are reared near humans they become bolder, he said.

Most of us that deal with these problems on a daily basis believe that its just a matter of time before somebody gets hurt by a cougar in Oregon, he said.