Wildlife conflict with us is man-made
Well, here we go again interfering with nature and making things worse.
Are you satisfied to know that the cougar that allegedly killed Diana Bober, who was hiking on a trail near Mount Hood — in wildlife territory — is dead? Will you sleep more soundly knowing that this is the first Oregon death of a hiker by a wild animal?
Also, the cougar killed by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) may not lead to positive DNA linkage to Bober. How many more cougars must die in vain?
Even if they link the dead animal to Bober, do you feel safer hiking or camping in wild areas?
Don't be … you shouldn't be.
You are not safe when you risk walking in the wild. You must be prepared and don't be fooled by foolish acts. I was raised in rural Oregon and you and your domestic animals and livestock are never fully out of harms way. You must always be cautious and prepared for the unexpected wild animal encounter.
In my opinion and apparently many others in Oregon, the cougar hunt and killing is a sad turn of events. We have taken a tragedy and we have made it worse.
If you ask most Oregonians, they wanted the ODFW to stand down and "leave the cougar alone." You can review some of the comments on the Facebook post of KGW Channel 8 News.
Let's assume after DNA testing confirms that this cougar did in fact kill Bober, which we all feel is terrible. Will this female cougar's death prevent other cougars or another wild animal from killing human prey that stumbles upon a den, territory, or simply happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
No, it will not.
Why? These hiking trails are where wild animals live. We humans become prey if we stumble across a cougar, bear, wolf, etc.
In fact, there is science and research that shows that when we kill them, we make them weaker and they will turn toward easier prey — livestock, domestic animals, and humans.
Haley Stewart is a Portland-based wildlife protection manager with the Humane Society of the United States. Stewart's work focuses on large carnivore protection.
Here's her statement:
"We are heartbroken to hear of Diana Bober's recent death by a possible cougar attack. Diana's death is a tragedy and we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.
"While conflicts with cougars are incredibly rare, we must learn to share our natural places with wildlife as well as how to best prevent or respond to any potential conflicts. This is increasingly important for Oregonians as population growth and development push further into what was once wilderness. Today, there are fewer and fewer places that humans don't overlap with wildlife, including cougars.
"We must also understand that undue persecution of cougars and other native carnivores will not reduce conflicts. Each year, hundreds of cougars are trophy-hunted in Oregon. Research shows that disrupting the sensitive social structures of cougars, such as through trophy-hunting, causes increased conflicts with humans, pets and livestock. "When resident adult cougars are killed, this leaves younger cougars, more prone to conflicts, to descend on that area. We can help prevent or reduce conflicts by reducing human-caused mortality and allowing cougars to maintain these essential social structures."
Why can't we grieve the loss of Bober, who apparently hiked regularly, and she likely understood the risks involved with this behavior? Why are we using her death as a reason to fearfully and aggressively react in some sort of vengeful act against a wild animal in its territory?
It's very likely that Bober was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It could also be that this cougar was a mother protecting its territory and/or cubs. Whatever the reason, this is a rare occurrence as stated by the ODFW.
I feel ODFW reacted hastily and with vengeance, knowing full well that their lethal actions would have zero impact on the future safety of hikers on Hunchback Mountain Trail.
If we cannot leave wild animals to live in peace in their territory, then I say we need to close all national parks and public lands to human and agricultural uses.