The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a warning to mountain bikers on Mount Hood’s Sandy Ridge Trail System to be aware that cougars are in the area.

Oregon Live reports the a pair of encounters sparked the warning. The first happened on May 31st when a mountain biker was briefly chased by a cougar on the lower portion of the Hide and Seek Trail.

The second sighting occurred on June 2nd near the kiosk on the upper end of the Hide and Seek Trail. In this incident the big cat did not make any aggressive moves, nor did it vacate the area immediately.

More reports of cougar run-ins came in response to ODFW’s Facebook post. A third mountain biker reported being chased by a cougar in the same area Friday and another reported spotting a cougar at the nearby Faraday Dam outside Estacada.

Here’s the warning issued by the ODFW:

On Wednesday, ODFW received a report of a cougar chasing a mountain biker briefly on the lower portion of the Hide & Seek trail on the Sandy Ridge Trail system. On Friday, June 2, there was another report of a cougar sighting by a mountain biker near the kiosk at upper Hide & Seek. The cat did not act aggressively but did not immediately leave the area. Here are some things to remember when recreating in cougar country.
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
• Leave your dog at home or keep it on a leash. Pets running free may lead a cougar back to you.
• Hike or bike in groups. Make noise to alert wildlife of your presence.
• Keep children close to you. Teach them about wildlife.
• Carry deterrent spray.
• Be cautious at dusk and dawn.
• Never feed any wildlife. Prey attracts predators.
• Do not approach any wildlife; stay at least 100 yards away.
• Steer clear of baby wildlife. Mother is likely nearby.
• Be alert when sitting quietly or stopping to rest.
• Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active.
• Be aware that animal calls and animal kills can attract a cougar.
If You Encounter a Cougar
• Cougars often will retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.
• Stay calm and stand your ground.
• Maintain direct eye contact.
• Pick up children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the cougar.
• Back away slowly.
• Do not run or ride quickly away. Running or riding can trigger a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.
• Raise your voice and speak firmly.
• If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands. Keep your bike between you and the cougar.
• If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, bear or pepper spray, tools or any items available
Here’s a quick video of the Sandy Ridge Trail System. Looks incredible.
images from Wikipedia & ODFW Facebook

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