Recreating in Cougar Country

Updated on: 04/22/2021 - 12:24


We are in cougar country! Within the past two weeks we have received three reports of cougar sightings within the McDonald Forest.

Despite how elusive these large cats can be, cougar sightings are incredibly common in the Research Forests, especially in late spring and summer when one to two-year-old cougars become independent of their mothers. Cougars are most active at dusk and dawn but can roam and hunt throughout the day or night in all seasons. Adult male cougars can have ranges up to 150 square miles; just because a cougar was sighted in one area doesn’t mean it will hang around there for long.


On this Earth Day we wanted to send out a special Forest Update to provide helpful tips and information for recreating and living in cougar country.


  • Be especially alert at dawn and dusk when cougars are most active
  • MAKE NOISE while hiking to reduce the chance of surprising a cougar.
  • Recreate in groups if you can
  • Keep children close by and teach them these wildlife tips!
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert when sitting quietly or stopping to rest.
  • Hunters! Be aware that animal calls and animal kills can attract cougars
  • Dogs can attract cougars. Keep your dogs close and consider keeping them on-leash.
  • Stay away from baby wildlife. The mother is most likely near by.


  • Cougars will often retreat if given the opportunity. Leave the animal a way to escape.
  • STAY CALM and stand your ground.
  • Maintain direct eye contact.
  • Raise your voice and speak firmly. Back away slowly.
  • Pick up children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the cougar.
  • DO NOT RUN. Running triggers a chase response in cougars, which could lead to an attack.
  • If the cougar seems aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.
  • If in the very unusual event that a cougar attacks you, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any items available.



Report any cougar sighting or encounter to our local Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office (ODFW) (541) 757-4186. If you can, provide ODFW with information about where and when the encounter took place, the circumstances of the encounter (how did the cougar behave, what were you doing when you saw the cougar), and a way for them to contact you for more information.

Here is a link to an excellent brochure that contains these guidelines for living in cougar country.


Stay safe out there! We are fortunate to live, work, and play among these majestic creatures who also consider these forests their home.

(Photo and tracks courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)