ROSEBURG, Ore. -- A Roseburg police officer was looking for a reported cougar in south Roseburg at about 5 a.m. Thursday morning when the animal ran in front of his patrol car and was struck.
A Wildlife Services agent tracked the animal to within a few blocks of Rose School.
According to Sgt. Aaron Dunbar of the Roseburg Police Department, an officer on patrol responded to the report of a cougar walking in the south Stephens Street area.
As he was driving on Stephens near Blakely Street, the animal ran out in front of his patrol car and was struck.
The injured cougar then took off.
Wildlife Services was called in with a dog to track the cat. They located it in a residential lawn on SE Cobb Street, which is just a few blocks from Rose Elementary School.
The agent shot and killed the cougar.
"This was just a couple blocks from Rose Elementary School, and we knew that we had younger kids that would be walking to school in the morning," Dunbar said. "So, time was an issue, and we felt like we had to destroy the animal."
Over the past five years, Roseburg police have received several calls about cougars in the area.
This is the first time it was necessary to put one down due to the danger it posed. "Animals typically don't come into town unless they're feeding," he said. "Realistically, what they're feeding on when they come into town is domestic pets, so there is a danger."
Michael Burrell is the district supervisor for USDA Wildlife Services, and was the person who was called out to deal with the problem with his tracking dog, Puck.
Burrell told KPIC News that the cougar seemed to know the neighborhood well. "I don't believe this was the cougar's first rodeo in Roseburg, he knew where all of the nooks and crannies to go under fences were," he said.
Before the cougar was put down, it attacked Puck the dog, who was injured. Burrell says that the dog should be fine.
He added that this is the second cougar they've had to put down in Douglas County this week, and he thinks that the big cats are a growing problem. "The agricultural areas have actually worked as kind of a buffer zone for us," said Burrell. "Unfortunately, cougars are getting past that buffer zone right down into the cities. It's going to become a bigger problem before it goes away."
If you see a cougar around your house, police say to keep your family and pets indoors and call 911.