Tom Epler of Forest Grove's EF Nursery was moving hay bales Sunday morning, June 11, driving his tractor through the nursery, when he turned a corner on the dirt road and glimpsed the back half of a cougar.
"It took off down the road and disappeared," he said.
That's the first cougar Epler has seen on his property, which sprawls west of B Street near the Gales Creek Bridge and Highway 47. But he's not surprised.
"You know they're going to be there," he said. "As buildings go up in the woods, it's going to push wildlife down here."
Epler decided to post a warning to Facebook: "For people living working and playing between B Street and Richey Rd. A cougar was seen this morning on the south side of Gales Creek."
The post drew lots of comments. "I have seen that cat in the early morning cross in B street close to the creek. It's a big one!" wrote one woman.
"I grew up with them so I don't think twice," wrote another. But others were more concerned.
"One was spotted at the bottom of our road on Wednesday night," wrote one woman. "Too many, too close!"
"Thank you for the heads up! I'll keep a little better eye on my hens," wrote a man.
Someone else posted three separate photos of a cougar caught by a trailcam set up by property owners on Carpenter Creek Road.
Capt. Mike Herb of the Forest Grove Police Department said it's been a couple years since other sightings were reported. "We had some reports on the outskirts west and north of town about two to three years ago — we generally, however, do not get many of these calls."
The important thing to remember about cougars is "they are totally afraid of us," Epler said, remembering how his tractor scared off the big cat on Sunday.
"We have coyotes all through the place and they'll trot alongside you."