A missing hiker found dead Monday in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest was probably killed by a cougar, officials said Tuesday. "There's a slim possibly that something else is responsible, but at this point every indication is that a cougar is responsible," Oregon Fish & Wildlife spokesman Brian Wolfer said. Diana Bober, 55, was reported missing on Friday, and her car was found near Welches on Saturday. She had been hiking the Hunchback Trail, which has been closed for now. If DNA confirms the autopsy's conclusion that Bober was killed by a cougar, it would be the first known fatal attack on a human by a wild cougar in Oregon history.
There are about 6,600 cougars in Oregon, and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said Oregon Fish & Wildlife will try to track down and kill the cougar who killed Bober, an avid hiker. Attacks by cougars, also called mountain lions, are very rare, though as cougar populations recover and human development spreads into their habitat, cougar sightings have increased. A cougar attacked two mountain bikers in Washington in May, killing one of them, and California and Colorado have had a handful of cougar attacks in recent decades.
If you do encounter a cougar, the Salem Statesman Journal says, first give it a chance to retreat. If the cat doesn't leave, don't run. Stay calm, maintain eye contact, back away slowly, and pick up any children without turning your back on the cougar or bending down. If the animal appears aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look bigger and clap loudly. And in the unlikely case that the cougar attacks, use anything you have — walking sticks, rocks, your fingers — to fight back. Lauren Serrano and Kelly Andersen at the Orange County Zoo have some more detailed advice below. Peter Weber