Cougar sighted this morning near Deerpath Drive in Oroville

Oroville School District sends out notice, tips on cougar encounters

OROVILLE – The Oroville District was notified this morning by local law enforcement, that there was a cougar sighting on Deerpath Rd at 8 a.m. this morning, according to a notice sent out by the district.

“We will be getting updates from law enforcement if the situation changes or if more action is needed. We want to be extra cautious and share with you and your students the following safety precautions,” reads the notice. “If you come face to face with a cougar, your actions can either help or hinder a quick retreat by the animal. Please be more aware of your surroundings and travel in groups (two or more).”

Encountering a Cougar

If you come face to face with a cougar, your actions can either help or hinder a quick retreat by the animal.

Here are some things to remember:

• Stop, pick up small children immediately and don’t run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack. Remember, at close range, a cougar’s instinct is to chase.

• Face the cougar. Talk to it firmly while slowly backing away. Always leave the animal an escape route.

• Try to appear larger than the cougar. Get above it (e.g., step up onto a rock or stump). If wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your apparent size. If you are in a group, stand shoulder- to-shoulder to appear intimidating.

• Do not take your eyes off the cougar or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.

• Never approach the cougar, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens, and never offer it food.

• If the cougar does not flee, be more assertive. If it shows signs of aggression (crouches with ears back, teeth bared, hissing, tail twitching, and hind feet pumping in preparation to jump), shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available (water bottle, book, backpack). The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.

• If the cougar attacks, fight back. Be aggressive and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach, including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing—even bare hands. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake. Pepper spray in the cougar’s face is also effective in the extreme unlikelihood of a close encounter with a cougar.

More information can be found at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/cougars.pdf

Cougar attacks on livestock or pets, and sightings of cougar in the City of Oroville should be reported immediately by calling Washington State Patrol Dispatch 509-422-3800 or 911.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.