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Officials euthanize cougar found in Oregon backyard, sparking controversy

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July 4, 2014: This still from a video shows a cougar who was tranquilized and euthanized over the weekend in Portland, Ore. (Courtesy KPTV)

Oregon wildlife officials said they had no choice but to kill a cougar captured in a Portland backyard, a decision that did not sit well with some animal lovers.

Officials from the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said the cougar was euthanized Friday for public safety reasons because the cat had become used to the city and had lost its fear of people.

But The Oregonian reported that at least on social media some people were wondering why the cougar couldn’t be saved.

The newspaper quoted Portland resident Amy Lestat as saying on its Facebook page: “The public wants to know why this animal could not be placed in a sanctuary or zoo. It seems as if with the short notice and due to the holiday, officials didn’t want to deal with the inconvenience.”

Residents called police to report the cougar sitting in a tree in a densely populated Portland neighborhood. After three hours, wildlife officials tranquilized the animal with a dart and removed it from the tree.

The cougar was placed in a cage and euthanized a while later.

Residents in the area reported cougar sightings all week. One resident reported her cat had been killed by an animal -- the only thing that remained of the pet was the cat’s tail and a paw.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has said older cougars are not good candidates for being relocated to zoos or other facilities, because relocation could create territorial conflicts among the big cats and spread disease. The state does relocate cougar kittens.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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