Sheriff: Woman likely killed by wild cougar near Mt. Hood, a first in Oregon
The Gresham woman who was missing for nearly two weeks was likely killed by a cougar, officials said Tuesday, marking the first time in Oregon history that a human was attacked by one of the animals in the wild.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed earlier in the day that Diana Bober, 55, was the woman found deceased Monday along the Hunchback Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest.
Bober was last seen on Aug. 29 according to Gresham police. Deputies said she was first reported missing last Friday.
Authorities shifted their search to the Hunchback Trail region after Bober’s vehicle was found parked at the Zigzag Ranger Station over the weekend. They also learned that her backpack was found along the trail, helping them narrow down the search area. Hikers familiar with the trail say it's steep.
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our sympathy goes out to Diana’s family and friends,” Brian Wolfer, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife's watershed manager, said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “All of us at ODFW are thinking of you today.”
This is the first verified report of a wild cougar attacking a human in Oregon, according to authorities. ODFW said there was only one other fatal cougar attack in Oregon's history, however, it involved a cougar in captivity. In November 2013, a woman was killed at the WildCat Haven sanctuary near Sherwood.
Wolfer said DNA testing results are expected back from a lab in a few days, but at this point there's every indication Bober was killed by a cougar.
“Because this is an unprecedented event in Oregon we don’t believe that the threat to the public that’s posed by cougars is any greater today than it was yesterday," Wolfer explained Tuesday. "However, we don’t know and can’t quantify the threat that this particular animal may pose to the public.”
Wolfer said officials have closed down the Hunchback Trail for the time being as they search for the cougar. Schools in the area have been placed on alert, and there could be other trail closures moving forward.
ODFW estimates there are 6,600 cougars in Oregon. The agency said it receives around 400 complaints about cougars a year, mostly regarding the animals hurting livestock or threatening pets.
Although attacks by the animals are extremely rare, Wolfer offered suggestions on how to avoid them.
"We recommend people avoid some areas likely have cougars at dawn (and) dusk, hike in pairs. If you have a dog keep it on a leash," he said. "And if you have kids keep them close and keep an eye on kids in areas that have a chance to have a cougar."
Family members tell us Bober was an avid hiker, who had a bright smile, beautiful red hair and a loving heart.
Earlier this summer, a cougar killed a cyclist in Washington who was on a trail in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. Fish and Wildlife said it was only the second mountain lion attack death in Washington state in the last 100 years.