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Benton County poultry farmer shot and killed a cougar

Reed Glasmann kneels by a young cougar shot on his property south of Philomath by a neighbor who found the cat prowling near some poultry pens. (Bennett Hall/Gazette-Times)

A Benton County poultry farmer shot and killed a cougar Thursday evening after he surprised the animal prowling around his pens in a rural neighborhood five miles south of Philomath.

The young mountain lion, which measures about 5 feet long from nose to tail, is being kept in a neighbor’s barn until it can be examined by state wildlife officials.

Shane Mooney, who raises ducks, geese and swans on his Peterson Road farm, was going to feed his birds when he spooked the cat, according to the neighbor, Reed Glasmann.

“He startled it, and it ran off into some blackberries,” Glasmann told the Gazette-Times on Friday.

Mooney took his young son into the house, then got his rifle and came out to look for the cougar. It was still in the blackberry thicket, on Glasmann’s property but only about 30 yards from Mooney’s house.

The animal “sauntered off” at Mooney’s approach, Glasmann said, seemingly unafraid. Mooney shot the cougar just down the hill, still on Glasmann’s property.

Glasmann’s glad he did. His family has had several other cougar sightings – of much larger animals – on their property in the last several years.

“I’m very concerned,” Glasmann said, “because I have four grandkids under the age of 6, and they like to wander around and explore.”

Cougar numbers have risen steadily since 1994, when Oregon voters passed a ban on using dogs to tree the predatory cats. Last fall, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated, 5,700 cougars roamed the state.

Sightings are on the rise in the mid-valley as well. Mountain lions have been spotted in Philomath and Corvallis in recent years, and a Linn County sheep farm has seemingly become a magnet for the big cats. Six cougars have been shot or trapped on the Brownsville farm of Cathy Stepp, who has lost five sheep to predation.

Mooney declined to be interviewed for this story, saying he didn’t want publicity. But his neighbors say they understand his actions.

“I know why he did it,” Reed Glasmann said. “He’s got a lot of money invested in those big birds, and he’s got a sweet little 2-year-old. He didn’t want his kid to get eaten by a cat when his back was turned.”

Bennett Hall can be reached at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@lee.net.