ODFW to investigate cougar sighting near OHSU

PORTLAND, Ore. - Two people, separately, say they saw a cougar early Thursday morning near Oregon Health & Science University in Southwest Portland.

And the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating whether a wild cougar is prowling around the hospital's parking garages.

The calls about a mysterious cat came from separate hospital rooms at about 2 a.m.

OHSU checked security cameras and found nothing. But on Friday, police put up warnings for the 20,000 patients, employees and students at the hospital.

"We had folks across the street, across Sam Jackson here, you know, patient room, looking outside of that window, across into this parking lot and saw the cat walking through the lot," said Greg Moawad of OHSU security.

"It's rare for a cougar to attack a person," said Julie Christie with the Oregon Zoo. "Most of the time, when you hear about attacks, it's because its a mother or its been agitated."

About 5,000 cougars live in the wild in Oregon. They usually sleep during the day and prowl at dusk and dawn. It would be unusual for the cat to be roaming around at 2 a.m.

Fish & Wildlife is sending a biologist to investigate. He'll be looking for tracks, claw marks and fur.

The agency might bring dogs or set up motion cameras. If confirmed there is a cougar, it will bring traps and try to kill it.

According ODFW, you should never approach a cougar at any time for any reason. If you happen to encounter one, stay calm, do not turn your back and do not run.

Also, make yourself look large by raising your hands up or holding your coat open.

Fight back if you're attacked. And keep children close and avoid walking alone.

There have been a number of cougar sightings around the area in recent months.

A cougar was spotted near OHSU in March. Around that same time there were also a number of "big cat" sightings on Livingston Mountain near Camas. Then earlier this month, several people reported seeing cougars in Lake Oswego. And finally, in Vancouver, a family dog helped catch a cougar by chasing it up a tree.

The last time biologists from Oregon Fish and Wildlife confirmed an actual cougar roamed the area was in Gresham in 1996.

According to ODFW, there has never been a documented case in Oregon of a cougar attacking a person.