UMPQUA — A woman’s encounter with a cougar west of Roseburg last week was another incident in a hard year for Marilynn Stephens’ chickens.
Stephens, 69, blames the loss of seven chickens on a cougar that’s found her coop. The latest killing came Wednesday, and Stephens caught the cat in the act.
Stephens, who lives in the 8100 block of Tyee Road, said she woke up at 4:15 a.m. to a racket coming from the chicken coop.
She went outside and shined a flashlight into the coop. Two eyes shined back.
“I got a little scared,” she said.
She retreated to her house and dialed 911. The incident was initially reported as a woman who had a cougar trapped in her chicken coop.
The cougar, however, wasn’t caught. It might have been content, though. It climbed a tree and enjoyed a chicken.
“It just got up in the tree and munched on it,” Stephens said. “We made eye contact as he was eating it.”
For 45 minutes, Stephens shined the light on the cougar and watched and waited for help. The animal came down and hid and looked around like it was looking for an escape route, Stephens said.
She said she thought about firing her .22-caliber pistol to frighten away the cougar, but her neighbor’s house was in the line of fire. She said she didn’t want to get off the porch to get a better angle.
The cougar left about the same time a deputy drove up her driveway, she said.
Stephens said she’s lived on Tyee Road since 2008, and this is the first time she’s seen a cougar.
The sheriff’s office last month warned people to be on the watch for cougars west of Roseburg after a man reported seeing one repeatedly along Garden Valley Road.
Stephens said her son saw a cougar take a chicken this summer from a field. After that, the chickens have been cooped up.
The cougar, however, apparently jumped against a 7-foot fence and bent over the chicken wire to get at the chickens, which numbered 20 before the raid and 17 afterward.
“There’s nothing I can do except make my chicken coop more safe,” she said. “I’m not a hunter, and I really don’t want to kill, but if it keeps coming around I’ll have to do something.”