Authorities in Bend have halted efforts to trap a cougar in the Deschutes River canyon because the animal has not returned to the area for several days, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported Tuesday.

“Cougar sighting signs remain up in the Deschutes River canyon area, with tips on how to respond if you see a cougar,” ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy wrote in an email.

Cougar activity in southwest Bend had been reported on multiple occasions since late April, including a deer kill near the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge and sighting of the animal near Fred Meyer. Cougars habituated to an urban area and spotted repeatedly in daytime are considered a threat to the public and euthanized under Oregon law. The Deschutes River cougar was considered a threat to public safety because it was staying in the same area, hunting there and comfortable around humans, ODFW officials said.

Any cougar sighting during daylight hours should still be reported by calling 911 or the ODFW office in Bend during regular business hours, Dennehy said.

Fresh cougar activity was also reported around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in Sunriver. The animal was spotted crossing the road near the intersection of S. Century and Abbot drives. Authorities scoured the area and did not find the animal.

Authorities do not believe the Sunriver cougar and the one sighted in Bend are the same animal.

“We are treating them as different animals; however, there is no way to know for sure at this point,” said Corey Heath, wildlife biologist for ODFW.

Authorities do not yet consider the Sunriver cougar a public safety threat and are not actively making an effort to trap the animal, Dennehy said.

The public is advised to follow ODFW guidelines when encountering a cougar. These include not turning one’s back to the animal, appearing large, not running away and fighting back if attacked.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, mkohn@bendbulletin.com

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