Police in Bend, Oregon are taking some heat this week for shooting a cougar at a popular hiking trail over the weekend.
George Wuerthner, a Bend biologist and spokesman for Predator Defense, tells the Statesman-Journal newspaper the cat would have likely walked away had it been left alone.
A spokesman for the police tells the Bend Bulletin the officer killed the cougar to protect public safety and that tranquilizing the animal would not have been affective. Lt. Clint Burleigh, said the drug delivered by a dart could take 15 minutes to take effect, according to the paper.
“If it takes that long to tranquilize the cougar, then it can create a more dangerous situation in an uncontained area,” he told the Bulletin.
Housing developments and nature trails encroaching on wild cougar and mountain lion habitat is becoming an increasing problem in Eastern Oregon. Earlier this January, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officer shot and killed a cougar near a housing development.
Mountain lions too are even roaming some city streets in Los Angeles with known cats in Griffith Park in the Hollywood Hills. In 2012, a mountain lion was shot and killed on the streets of Downtown Santa Monica.