A missing Oregon woman who was found dead off a hiking trail near Mount Hood on Monday was likely killed by a cougar, authorities revealed on Tuesday. The incident is the first confirmed fatal wild cougar attack in the state.
An autopsy of 55-year-old Diana Bober’s body determined that her wounds were caused by a large animal. The medical examiner’s office determined that the wounds were consistent with a suspected cougar attack, ruling out the possibility that Bober was mauled after dying from a separate cause.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office said that the Oregon State Police is flying Bober’s DNA samples to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laboratory in Ashland for further analysis.
Brian Wolfer, Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife watershed manager, said the DNA samples can help identify the genus of the responsible animal, albeit he thinks that there is a slim chance that something else is responsible for the attack.
Bober’s sister, Alison, told The Oregonian that her sister was an avid hiker, an independent woman who felt safe on the trails. She added that Diana also appears to have fought the animal that attacked her.
“Although she died of her wounds, the wild animal didn’t come back to her,” Allison Bober said.
It is not yet clear when the DNA testing will be completed, but wildlife officials are now looking for the cougar responsible for the attack. They will also attempt to kill the animal.
ODFW wildlife biologists and Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife officers visited the scene where Bober’s body was recovered on Tuesday to assess the situation and decide the best way to locate the cougar.
Over the past decade, there were about 20 cougars that were killed each year in the area where Bober’s body was found. Authorities are now warning the public of the potential danger in this place.
“This is an unprecedented event in Oregon, we are asking people to avoid this area while we attempt to remove this cougar,” said Wolfer. “We don’t know what risk it poses to the public.”
Oregon is currently the home of about 6,600 cougars. The ODFW tracks conflicts with these animals, including those where cougars kill pets or livestock, or pose threats to human safety. The number of complaints throughout the state averaged more than 400 annually for the last several years.
Landowners and law enforcement personnel can kill cougars if these animals cause agricultural damage or human safety issues. The animals can also be hunted.