Cougar attacks livestock, leaves neighborhood fearful

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Three weeks ago Jessica Grabowski and her family awoke to a shocking sight.

"My husband was leaving for work and he noticed that one of our goats was not moving, so he came back and went out to check on it and we realized that four of them were dead," says Grabowsk.

They called the Sheriff's Office, who sent a deputy out to the property and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It was determined to be a cougar attack, and traps and cameras were set up to be sure of it.

"Living out where we live, there's always a possibility there's predators that can come eat animals," says Grabowski. "I didn't think it would come into a populated rural area like where we are and that it would come so close to our home."

Grabowski said she wouldn't be surprised by a coyote, but she never thought a cougar would step foot on her property.

She worries for her family with the animal creeping so close, and would like more study into why the area has experienced more cougar encounters in recent years.

Oregon Hunters Association thinks they have an idea.

"The population is continuing to increase state wide. And their habitat is super saturated at this point," says Duane Dungannon, State Coordinator for the Oregon Hunters Association. "They're very territorial. They don't tolerate encroachment by rivals. The leading cause of cougar mortality."

Dungannon says there's a competition for food, with cougar numbers up and the deer population down.

He says the only fix may be to relax hunting laws.

"I think its' pretty clear from the fatal attacks we've seen in Oregon and Washington that cougars are kind of losing their fear of humans and we're seeing them in places that we haven't seen them before," says Dungannon.

Some disagree that allowing cougars to be hunted is the solution, citing record low cougar numbers when hunting laws were more relaxed in the last century.

But those numbers have since doubled, prompting some to revisit the idea.

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