Diana Bober, 55, was last seen on Aug. 29. Her body was discovered on Sept. 10 along the Hunchback Trail in Oregon’s Mt. Hood National Forest. State wildlife officials said Bober’s death marks the first deadly wild cougar attack in the state.
Medical staff who performed the autopsy said the injuries “appeared to be consistent with an animal attack,” the report said, according to Oregon Live. Bober also had wounds on her hands.
But there was no official cause of death listed in the report.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said they believe they have since shot and killed the female cougar responsible for Bober’s death, according to a news release.
‘All Available Evidence’ Points to Cougar
The 5-page police report detailing Bober’s injuries obtained by Oregon Live said that Bober’s body was found on Sept. 10 about 300 feet off the Hunchback Trail down a steep incline. The location is about a mile from the Zigzag Ranger Station where her car was found.
ODFW officials said a cougar was detected on video on Sept. 14 by a trail camera that had been set at the site of the attack. They killed the animal on the same day about six hours later, according to Oregon Live.
Officials believe it was the one that had attacked Bober, but they could not rule out the possibility that another cougar was responsible because DNA testing was inconclusive.
While DNA from the cougar was able to be extracted, the lab did not find matching DNA from the evidence collected at the scene where Bober died.
The ODFW said it is likely because the evidence had been contaminated as several days had likely passed before Bober’s body was found. During that time, there was also heavy rainfall that could have further contaminated the evidence, they said.
“The evidence is too contaminated for us to ever be able to tie it to an individual cougar,” Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Lab Ken Goddard said.
However, “all available evidence” points to this one cougar alone, according to the press release.
“Over the past week, no other cougar has been detected in the area,” ODFW said. The news release announced that ODFW officers were ending their efforts to capture cougars in the area on Sept. 21, adding that they were confident they had captured the right animal.
“It is impossible to determine why the cougar attacked Diana. There is no sign that it was sick or unhealthy and a rabies test was negative,” Broman said.
“Wildlife behavior is unpredictable but cougar attacks are extremely rare throughout the Western U.S. where cougars are found.”
Zack Stieber of NTD contributed to this report.