A large cougar has been spotted, and photographed, making its way through a residential neighborhood in Ashland. While a wildlife biologist reminded us that there has never been a confirmed cougar attack on a human in Oregon, he also added in a Friday Tidings story, “I would hesitate to predict what any wildlife would do.”
There have been cougar attacks on humans confirmed in other states and it seems likely it will happen in this state at some point. That is when the real question of how to respond will arise and the time that cooler heads should prevail.
Cougars are meat-eating predators, but obviously have little appetite for humans. What they do have is an appetite for four-legged critters, and Ashland provides a stocked pantry of that meal, with docile deer grazing on lawns, apparently unconcerned for their safety.
Despite those easy pickings, cougars rarely set up in cities, because they are as leery of us as we are of them, and probably more so. There are hundreds in Southern Oregon but very few sightings as they generally make an effort to give us a wide berth.
An attack against a human, especially a child, would almost certainly raise the eradicate-them mentality in some corners. That would make no sense, unless you’re also prepared to eradicate dogs and automobiles.
Ashland prides itself on its natural setting, nestled up against forested mountains. With that natural setting comes occasional danger, which we should be aware of but not panicked by.