Cougar Sighting Forces Closure of Cannon Beach at Haystack Rock

Xavier Roger
Cougar Sighting Forces Closure of Cannon Beach at Haystack Rock
Image Credit – Wikipedia. For reference purposes only


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In an unprecedented event, Cannon Beach has been temporarily closed in the vicinity of Haystack Rock following the cougar sighting on top of the iconic sea stack.

Khula Makhalira, a visitor to Cannon Beach, reported to KOIN 6 News that his family encountered the cougar around 6:40 a.m. during their vacation. The last sighting had the cougar heading towards the ocean side of Haystack Rock.

Makhalira shared, “[The cougar] went on the backside. I had to warn a family with a baby, so I stopped photographing.” Concerned about public safety, the Cannon Beach Police Department promptly announced the closure of the beach until further notice.

At 8:24 a.m. on Sunday, the Cannon Beach Police Department posted on social media, stating, “The beach at Haystack Rock is closed due to a cougar sighting. We will update the public when it reopens. Until then, please avoid the area.”

As of 12:41 p.m., the cougar was still observed roaming on Haystack Rock. To ensure public safety and protect the cougar, officers from CBPD, Oregon State Police Game troopers, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Parks, the Haystack Rock Awareness Program, and Cannon Beach Fire are present at the scene. CBPD informed the public that “there is still an adult mountain lion on Haystack Rock” and that the beach between Haystack Rock and the dunes has been closed to provide the cougar with an escape route. They requested the public’s cooperation and patience during this unique situation and urged them to avoid the area.

In efforts to locate and monitor the animal, a photographer captured an image of the cougar around 7 a.m. The Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District deployed water scooters to locate the animal, confirming its presence at approximately 9:30 a.m. However, a subsequent Facebook post by the fire district spokesperson around noon suggested that what they saw may have been a shadow. To grant the cougar a safe escape route, a portion of the coast near Cannon Beach was cordoned off.

Throughout the day, the Cannon Beach Police Department remained vigilant, ensuring the cougar’s departure without any harm to people. In a Facebook update at 1 p.m., a spokesperson emphasized the importance of community assistance and patience during this unique situation.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife revealed that Oregon is home to approximately 6,000 cougars, also known as mountain lions. While cougar sightings are infrequent, the recent spate raises questions about the reasons for such frequent sightings and the definition of cougar behaviour.

Nehalem Bay State Park experienced cougar sightings as well, prompting the closure of a campground trail on Thursday. Cannon Beach City Manager Bruce St. Denis speculated that the cougar might frequent the area due to the abundance of prey and the cover of darkness. He stated, “It’s the only time we’ve found a mountain lion going up to the rock in the morning.” St. Denis expressed confidence that the cougar would eventually leave on its own. Consequently, a 2,000-foot area around Haystack Rock remains closed, while the rest of the beach remains accessible.

Haystack Rock, a designated wilderness area within the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, is known for its ecological importance and serves as a nesting habitat for various seabird species, including tufted puffins.

This marks the second time in recent days those cougars have been sighted along the northern Oregon coast. Nehalem Bay State Park, located 16 miles south of Cannon Beach, closed the eastern section of the Loop Trail due to multiple cougar sightings.

As authorities and wildlife experts continue to address the ongoing cougar sightings and assess their implications, it is imperative to understand the cougar’s definition, reasons for its frequent sightings, and its natural habitat.

Source – Economic Times


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