National Park Service
SEASIDE — Seaside Heights Elementary School moved all student activities inside Monday after a reported cougar sighting.
Staff escorted students home and monitored crosswalks. Residents of Creekside Village Apartments are being warned their small pets could be in danger.
Superintendent Sheila Roley said a neighbor reported to Principal John McAndrews “that she believed she had seen a cougar in the neighborhood last weekend.”
Roley consulted with an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife field biologist for guidance. Seaside police, Clatsop County and Oregon State Police have all been notified of the sighting.
Animals gone missing
The alert came after residents of the Creekside Village Apartments witnessed a fight that left a house cat dead or missing at the hands of a violent unknown predator, possibly a cougar.
“Our manager informed us and I thought the public should be aware,” resident Jennifer Paluch said Wednesday.
“A couple of the tenants were out this weekend and actually witnessed a cougar grab a cat,” added Paluch, a mother of a 2-year-old and owner of two large dogs.
Paluch was told the animal had been spotted and “snagged a few pets from the complex,” she said.
Creekside Village Apartments manager Joelle Breazier said she reported the incidents to Fish and Wildlife and state police.
“We’ve had several animals go missing in the last several months,” Breazier said.
Costa Kenenounis, who lives at an end unit bordering the woods, said other pet owners had come by recently searching for missing pets.
He was called Monday by a neighbor sitting outside who witnessed a fight between her cat and a large animal.
“She thought it was a bobcat, but described it as a light-tan, knee-high cat attacking a neighbor cat and dragging it off in the woods,” Kenenounis said.
Kenenounis joined the search. “I was kind of skeptical, but I found where it happened,” he said.
He found signs of an animal struggle and remnants of the cat’s fur, he said. As a hunter, he recognized what he described as cougar tracks, “like a big dog print, but a cat print.”
Naturalist Neal Maine said the reports were “credible,” but coyotes were more likely to snatch house cats than cougars.
An estimated 6,493 cougars lived in Oregon in 2015, a healthy population, according to the state. This summer, people reported multiple cougar sightings near downtown Tigard, a city of more than 48,000 outside of Portland, The Daily Astorian reported last week.
Maine recommended a network of trail cameras to monitor wildlife.
“Even at night, they do a great job,” he said. “With infrared, it’s enough to ID stuff, so if people see things, it provides a slick way to test the theory.”
The owner of a Maltese dog, Kenenounis said he used to let his dog walk ahead of him off leash.
“Now I don’t do it,” he said. “There’s no way I could keep up with any animal that would snatch him and run.”
Paluch is “a little frightful” that there might be a cougar nearby, she said.
On Tuesday night, Seaside police received a report of a bear sighting in the same area, near Cooper Drive and Alder Drive.
While the bear was not witnessed by police, officers told residents they would increase patrols.
Information provided by the Seaside School District from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife :
• Cougars typically are out at dawn and dusk.
• Cougars avoid lots of noise.
• Males have a very large territory of up to 50 square miles and move throughout it. Females have a territory of about 10 square miles.
• It is rare to have a cougar stay in the same area for more than a few days before moving on unless they are near a good supply of livestock who are out at night.
• It would be extremely unlikely that a cougar would approach a playground full of children during the day.