Cougar killed in La Grande

By By Dick Mason The Observer July 13, 2012 01:21 pm

A cougar was shot and killed running into a residential area of La Grande late Wednesday night by a member of a law enforcement officer team.

The cougar, an 88-pound male between 1 1/2 and 2 years old, was shot at 11:30 p.m. in the vicinity of Monroe Street and Jackson Avenue.

A team of three La Grande Police officers and two Oregon State Police troopers began searching for the animal after someone had reported to police at 11:15 p.m. of seeing a cougar at Fourth Street and Adams Avenue. 

The team of law enforcement officers was then assembled and began conducting a grid-type search for the big cat.  

A few minutes later after the search started the cougar was spotted running north through the railroad yard and was shot and killed. 

 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel were then called and took possession of the cougar. 

Lt. Derick Reddington of the La Grande Police Department credited all members of the team that found the cougar with using excellent judgment and tactics.

“I appreciate their efforts,’’ Reddington said.

The cougar was found after the dispatch center for the La Grande Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Department had received two reports of cougar sightings early Wednesday. 

A cougar was reported near the Grande Ronde Fitness Club, 2214 Adams Ave., at 4:54. a.m. and at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, 1002 L Ave. at 6:30 a.m.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife then began conducting an extensive cougar search. Birnie Park, the Forestry and Range Sciences Lab area and the EOU fields north of it, the brushy area north Badgley Hall at EOU and the hill area south of Miller Drive were searched Wednesday morning.

But no cougars were spotted. 

ODFW Biologist Leonard Erickson, who examined the cougar Thursday morning, said the animal had not eaten in one to two days but was in superb health.

“It was in prime condition,’’ the biologist said. 

The cougar, because it was so young, Erickson said, may have recently left its mother and was searching for a territory to establish.