A tree in Minto-Brown Island Park. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
A man walking his dog spotted what he believed was a cougar at Minto-Brown Island Park on the orange turtle loop Sunday, May 23.
Trevor Smith, Salem’s public works information officer, said the city had the spotting referred to them by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
He said the park patron saw the cougar 15 yards away and ran. The man said the cougar was spooked by another group of hikers on the same trail.
If you encounter a cougar or bobcat, don’t approach it and don’t run, ODFW advises. Instead, back away slowly while maintaining eye contact and appearing larger.
Smith said there have been cougar sightings at Minto over the years.
Oregon is home to more than 6,000 cougars who maintain ranges of up to 100 miles. ODFW said while cougar sightings have increased, coyotes, bobcats and dogs are often mistaken for the big cats.
The city is encouraging people to go in groups when walking the park, make plenty of noise and make sure children are within sight.