Cougar sighting prompts Ashland warning

Two women running above Lithia Park on Friday said they saw a dog attack a deer about 40 minutes before a man out walking said he saw a cougar feeding on a dead deer.

Jogger Dodie Noles of Talent said on Monday that she doesn't know whether the man was mistaken about seeing a cougar, or whether the cougar was attracted to the deer that had been attacked by the dog. The cougar report late last week prompted police to issue warnings to area residents and park-goers about potential danger from cougars.

Noles said she was running with her Ashland friend, Karolina Wyszynska, at about 6:20 a.m. Friday when they saw what they described as a tan pitbull/Labrador mix grabbing a deer by the leg.

"I kept throwing rocks at it. It had a dog collar on and there was blood all over its face," Noles said.

The dog let go of the deer, ran toward them, and then veered away and ran down into Lithia Park, she said.

The deer could not support its weight on the injured leg and lay down on the ground, she said.

The women jogged away from the deer.

They were on the Pioneer Street trail that links the end of Pioneer Street to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department office in Lithia Park.

A man walking his dog reported to parks staff that he had seen a cougar feeding on a deer on the trail at about 7 a.m. on Friday.

The two women joggers didn't report what they saw to parks staff, although Wyszynska said she called Jackson County Animal Control. She said a staff person asked her if she knew where the dog lived, but she didn't have that information.

Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division Senior Trooper James Collom examined the deer carcass on Friday.

He said on Monday that the deer's skull had been penetrated by what looked to be the canine teeth of a cougar.

"I'm pretty confident it was a cougar," Collom said.

A government cougar hunter hired by Jackson County to deal with problem cougars in the county was also there and confirmed the bite was made by a cougar, Collom said.

"I haven't seen a dog bite like that go completely through a skull in a deer. A skull on a deer is pretty thick," he said.

However, Collom noted that pit bulls do have powerful jaws.

Parks Director Don Robertson said the deer had been fed upon. Robertson said he can't be sure, but it's plausible that the deer seen by the joggers was the same one seen by the man walking his dog and examined by OSP.

He said stray dogs do sometimes come into Lithia Park.

"We're always concerned about stray dogs. They're always a concern to us," Robertson said.

Robertson said he doesn't know the name of the man who reported seeing a cougar.

City officials said five animals, including deer and turkeys, have been killed in the park in recent weeks.

People should report incidents to the Ashland Police Department at 541-488-5211 and the Ashland Parks Department at 541-488-5340. Both numbers are monitored 24 hours a day and callers are asked to leave a message if a someone doesn't answer the phone in person.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter with the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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