SWEET HOME — Randy Pendergraft and his family were eating supper about 7 p.m. Friday at their home on Turbyne Road, just south of the city limits, when they were startled by the view from their dining room window: a mother cougar and two juveniles were walking across their yard.
Pendergraft, a mechanic at Cascade Timber Consulting, picked up a video camera and captured images of the three animals as they sauntered into his neighbor’s yard.
“I used to work in the woods and never saw a cougar then,” Pendergraft said. “I did see a couple when I worked on our road maintenance crew. We’ve never been able to keep a cat very long and our dog came up missing, but we thought he ran away. Maybe it was because of cougars.”
Pendergraft said the sighting concerns him for two reasons: his three young grandchildren often spend time with their grandparents, and their home is only a block outside of the Sweet Home city limits, indicating the cats may be venturing closer to humans.
“They came within 40 or 50 feet of our neighbor’s house,” Pendergraft said. “They were probably 100 feet from our home when we saw them; they could have been closer before we actually noticed them.”
Pendergraft said his yard borders timbered Cascade Timber Consulting property.
He said he called the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but as of Monday afternoon his call had not been returned.
“They are really beautiful animals, but I don’t want them in our front yard,” Pendergraft said. “It would be nice if they could be trapped and released somewhere else, but that probably isn’t going to happen.”
Pendergraft said he is a hunter and does have firearms if the cats were to pose a threat to his family.
In March, trapper Ron Henthorne killed two mature male cougars within a mile of each other in the Holley area. The cats — one weighing 156 pounds and the other 125 pounds — were believed to have killed cattle on McQueen Drive and goats on nearby Crescent Hill.
Henthorne said this morning that no livestock has been reported killed in the area since then.
According to Brian Wolfer, wildlife biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon is home to an estimated 5,700 cougars.
Cougars live in brushy areas and will feed on livestock, deer and elk. They can consume one deer every five days. Males can range over 150 square miles.