The Mountain Lion Foundation and the Humane Society of the United States held a community event titled, “Living with Oregon’s Cougars: Prevent Conflicts and Coexistence” on November 12th in Bend, Oregon. Around 80 Oregonians turned out to the workshop, eager to learn about the status of cougars in their state, as well as steps they could take in their own communities to ensure a future for apex predators amid growing conflicts.Prior to the event, Mountain Lion Foundation’s Wildlife Biologist & Conservation Specialist Korinna Domingo spoke with Sean Coleman on radio station KBND, encouraging the local community, law enforcement, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees to attend.
Items on the workshop agenda were straightforward: (1) State of cougars in Oregon, (2) Human and livestock conflicts, (3) Strategies and tools for preventing conflicts, and (4) What to do if a conflict does occur. Stewart’s talk focused on currently policy and conflicts in Oregon, while Weilgus presented on cougar ecology and population dynamics. Domingo went through practical solutions in preventing human-cougar conflicts, and even demonstrated the proper use of air horns (which the kids thoroughly enjoyed). Every event participant left with their own air horn and the knowledge of how to properly use it, courtesy of the Mountain Lion Foundation.
One of our common goals was to instill confidence in workshop attendees, and empower Oregon residents to talk with their neighbors, community members, and local decision makers about the importance of coexistence and using non-lethal conflict prevention tools to handle conflicts or encounters with cougars and other wildlife.
To that end, we have included several action items for Oregonians to consider:
- Reach out to your community: Talk with your friends, family, neighbors, community groups about steps they can take to prevent conflicts with cougars and other wildlife. You can even speak with your local HOA board and city council members about implementing non-lethal tools and strategies in your communities, like wildlife-proof trash cans.
- Tell the media: You can submit letters to the editor and opinion pieces to your local media outlets sharing your thoughts on coexisting with these animals and using non-lethal strategies to prevent conflicts.
- Talk with local law enforcement: If you don’t like the way responders are handling wildlife conflicts, tell them. They want and need to hear from you!
- Meet with your legislators: You can speak with your legislators about protecting wildlife like cougars from lethal control. They typically host regular coffee meetings or town halls with their constituents just to hear from folks like you. You can find your state lawmakers here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html
Thank you to all the Bend residents for attending the Coexisting with Native Carnivores Workshop. We sincerely hope you found the information presented valuable, relevant, and useful in coexisting safely with cougars and in developing a better understanding of cougars in general.
Mountain Lion Foundation is very appreciative of Kelly Peterson and Haley Stewart for inviting us to speak and organizing such a fun and successful event.
The Humane Society of the United States and the Mountain Lion Foundation stand ready as a resource and would like to help Oregonians in their efforts to help build greater tolerance for Oregon’s native carnivores.