Part of the joy of living in Skyline West is being on the urban-wildland interface. Along with that comes wildlife. Deer and turkeys are part of our everyday life along with raccoons, possums, hawks, vultures, snakes, bats, spiders and crane flies to name a few. There is the occasional coyote and now and then a bobcat or cougar.
Cougar! Now that may be too exciting. Cougar sightings in our neighborhood have been reported as recently as May, 2019, and October, 2018. Fortunately the only threatening behavior was directed at a stag.
Questions about what to do when you see a cougar and what to do about the turkeys have been hot topics for SWNA and prompted the creation of this webpage. We have tried to distill the e-mail conversations and summarize the content.
Remember, the animals are our neighbors too and no hunting is allowed in city limits!
If you see a cougar think safety first and then think about reporting it.
Reporting is the easy part. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) tracks cougar sightings and is responsible for determining their threat level. Only the ODFW can take action to manage a cougar.
During business hours call:
ODFW District Office in Adair, 541-757-4186, Nancy Taylor is the District Wildlife Biologist.
After hours. call:
Corvallis Police or Benton County Sheriff and they will report it to ODFW.
Reports sometimes make their way to the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
Staying calm and thinking about safety doesn't come so easily. ODFW has a webpage about Living with Cougars. Cougars have large territories of up to 100 miles and prowl alone looking for deer, turkeys and small animals to eat especially at dawn and dusk. The following is some of the advice from the ODFW:
Prevention of attacks:
- Walk pets during the day and keep them on a leash. Shelter them at night.
- Keep children close. Hike in groups and make noise.
- Don't feed wildlife. You may attract a cougar.
- Deer-proof your garden.
- Consider installing motion-activated lights or sprays around your home or garden.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when outdoors especially at dawn or dusk.
If you encounter a cougar while outdoors:
- Stay calm and stand your ground.
- Maintain direct eye contact.
- Pick up small children without turning your back on the cougar.
- Raise your voice and speak firmly.
- Back away slowly. Do not run.
The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is not native to Oregon. They were introduced by the ODFW for hunting in 1961. The subspecies Rio Grande came from the southern Great Plains and northern Mexico in 1975. It has "proven adaptable to a surprisingly wide range of habitat types" according to the ODFW including Skyline West.
For some of us, viewing turkeys is quite pleasant. For some of us, they are a nuisance or pest. Large flocks of turkeys can damage gardens and crops. The ODFW does not recommend turkey abatement programs as they are ineffective. It is up to the individual property owner to discourage turkey grazing. Hunting is not allowed within the city limits.
The ODFW publishes this page on Considerations for Coexisting with Wild Turkeys.