Oregon Garden in Silverton closed due to cougar sighting - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Garden in Silverton closed due to cougar sighting

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(Courtesy: Tamara Swanson) (Courtesy: Tamara Swanson)
(Courtesy: Tamara Swanson) (Courtesy: Tamara Swanson)

The Oregon Garden in Silverton is closed after a cougar was spotted in the botanical garden Wednesday night.

“It was like I was transposed into a scene of National Geographic, watching this thing in front of me," Tamara Swanson, an Oregon Garden member, described her run-in with a cougar. "I was pretty excited, I never expected I would come across a cougar.”

Currently, when guests try to enter the Oregon Garden they’re met with a closed sign for caution because of the cougar sighting.

Oregon Garden Resort employees are working with officials like the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Silverton Police Department to make sure the grounds are safe before reopening.

It was around 5:30 p.m. when Swanson said she was taking a brisk walk and heard a rustle in the bushes. Most people would freeze, but Tamara whipped out her phone and snapped a picture of the cat.

Guests at the resort are happy to be informed, especially the ones with dogs.

“We were gonna walk clear up to the end with them unleashed. We might’ve lost one of our beloved family members,” said Margo Mercier, of her and her granddaughter’s dogs. 

The Oregon Garden Resort’s front desk manager, Lindi McKeown, was in charge of calling ODFW on Thursday. She says she joined the trackers, showing them where the cougar was spotted.

“And then randomly, one of the guys said, ‘Hey guys! He’s standing here in front of us!’ So we all of us kind of froze,” McKeown said.

She says she saw the cougar’s tail but not much else.

“In the moment I was scared, but it was more adrenaline. Like, this is real,” McKeown said.

People in the area have been more fascinated than fearful.

ODFW’s spokesperson, Michelle Dennehy, says there were cougar sightings in the area earlier this month. Resort employees say it was only a matter of time before one of them jumped the fence into the garden.

“Absolutely. We have deer jump it all the time,” McKeown said.

ODFW officials say the cougar moved off the property in the direction of Cascade Highway on Thursday afternoon.

Trackers will be coming back Friday to try and trap the cougar if they can. They told resort staff the young cat looked unhealthy so they’ll have to evaluate what needs to be done if they’re able to capture it.

A cougar near guests is a public safety concern, so Silverton police officers tell FOX 12 they will be patrolling.

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