July 29, 2001 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Chuck and Sheri Anderson of Summerville move about their property more carefully today after a cougar was shot and killed near their home earlier this month.

We are more cautious, said Anderson, a sergeant with the Union County Sheriffs Department.

Anderson shot and killed a 2-year-old cougar 100 yards from his home around 6 a.m. on July 17. He suspected that something was up when he saw his four horses run frantically by his bedroom window that morning between 5 and 5:30.

As he was walking out the door he heard one of his dogs make a terrible yell in the distance. He sounded like he was getting murdered, Anderson said.

Then he grabbed his rifle.

Anderson could not find his dog or the cause of the commotion. He was returning home when he came perilously close to the instigator of the problem.

Anderson looked up to find himself just six feet away from a cougar hiding in brush. The animal was looking right at him. It was growling and appeared short tempered.

If he wanted me he could have had me, Anderson said.

The cougar started to move toward Anderson, who was facing the animal and frightened.

I was backing away, Anderson said.

Suddenly the cougar changed its mind and climbed 12-15 feet up a pine tree that was right behind it. The police officer then shot the cougar, which died instantly and fell to the ground.

Anyone can kill a cougar in Oregon if it is posing a threat to someones safety or property.

The cougar was later taken to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office in La Grande where biologists examined it. The male cat weighed 112 pounds and biologists determined that it was about 2 years old. It is estimated that the cougar, which was dehydrated when it was brought in, weighed 118-120 pounds when it was shot.

Anderson, who lives about four miles north of Summerville, was about 100 yards northeast of his house when he saw the cougar. Anderson and his family are now taking special precautions. For example, they never let their daughter, Danielle, 12, go outside their house unless she has both of the family dogs with her. The Andersons have a Lab-cross and a red heeler stock dog.

The stock dog is the one that had the run in with the cougar. It was hurt during the encounter.

Anderson has seen cougars in the area before but they were always at least half a mile away. Anderson had expected to find a black bear near his home when he went outside.

I thought I would fire a shot in the air to scare it away, Anderson said.