Bruce Ericksen was outside his home west of Roseburg Friday morning chatting with a neighbor when he saw something familiar but unwelcome.
A full-grown cougar stood under a tree about 125 feet away. The cat has been prowling around Ericksen’s home in the 800 block of Garden Valley Road for a few weeks.
Ericksen, 69, said he ran inside to grab a gun and returned before realizing the scope was not properly adjusted. He made a second trip inside to grab a .22 Magnum.
Ericksen fired a warning shot to scare the cougar away. The cat ran about 100 feet before it stopped to watch the men again and then finally loped off.
“I thought this (cougar) was very aggressive. It stayed long enough to allow me to go into the house to get two different guns, separately,” Ericksen said.
Ericksen said he has seen the cougar seven times. Before Friday, it had always been at night. The cat has ventured into the front yard and driveway.
“It just amazed me. They are reclusive, usually. This one doesn’t care,” he said.
Responding to the cougar sightings, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has warned people to be careful in the Garden Valley and Melrose areas west of Roseburg.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Tod Lum advised people who encounter a cougar to keep their distance, don’t turn away or run. People should make noise and try to make themselves as big as possible by raising their arms or holding open a jacket. If a cougar attacks, fight back and do not play dead. Walking alone at night or in the early morning can be particularly risky because those are prime hunting times for cougars, he said.
David Whitmore, 42, was the neighbor talking with Ericksen on Friday morning. He said he has seen the cougar before and has found droppings behind his shed.
About a week and a half ago, the animal came down a hill toward Whitmore when he was putting his pet cat in a carrier. Whitmore said he stood his ground with a firearm, but the cougar did not retreat.
“It keeps coming to the same spots to watch people,” he said.
Whitmore said another neighbor told him the cougar has been coming around for two years and usually appears in the fall.
A friend of Whitmore’s, Bob Moore, 41, of Roseburg shot and killed a cougar Thursday night at his niece’s residence on Cleveland Hill Road in the Melrose area.
The cougar had killed three goats on the property, Moore said.
Moore and his nephew-in-law found the cat about 25 minutes after it killed the third goat. The cougar was about 40 yards from the house in a wooded area when Moore shot and killed it.
“It’s getting bad that cougars don’t care. It’s a threat and an endanger to little children,” Moore said. “It was really scary to be face-to-face with an animal that can tear you in two.”
Despite Ericksen’s warning shot, the cougar was back again early Saturday morning, he said.
He said he flashed a light on the hill and that he thought he saw two sets of eyes.
“I’m not sure there isn’t two cougars,” he said. “I’m concerned for anyone who has little kids in the neighborhood. They really become a neighborhood problem.”
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.