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Trio of cougar cubs orphaned by hunter find new NC home

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(CNN/KPTV)Three newborn cougar cubs have a new home after a hunter killed their mother.

For now, they're being cared for at the Oregon Zoo.

The hunter rescued them after realizing the cougar he killed had cubs.

This is our first look at three feisty cougar cubs in their new home.

Oregon zookeepers have been feeding and caring for the cubs after getting a call two weeks ago.

"A female cougar had been killed in the wild by a hunter and that there were three cubs that needed homes,” Michelle Schireman, Zookeeper, said.

A hunter shot the cubs' mother last week near Baker City. He happened to be a retired wildlife biologist and didn't realize the cougar had cubs until it was too late.

But he immediately took action to save these little guys, and traced the cougar tracks back in the snow to find the cubs in their den.

"A lot of hunters wouldn't have taken the time and the fact that there was snow on the ground, which allowed him to track back to her den was also very helpful,” Schireman said. “ It's pretty unusual.”

cougarcubsZookeepers say if that didn't happen, the cubs would nothave survived.

Now, at the zoo, they're doing pretty well.

"Learning to eat from a bottle and adjust to the different formula,” Schireman said.  "But they're doing really well."

The cubs won’t be staying in Oregon. When they're strong enough, the cougars will be off to their new permanent home, the zoo in North Carolina.

And, we had to ask, what will the trio be named?

"They were born pretty darn close to Christmas so I’m thinking a holiday theme. But we'll see what they want to do in North Carolina,” Schireman said.


  • Julie

    Why did he kill the mother? If he hadn’t done that, the cubs wouldn’t have needed rescuing. He doesn’t sound like a hero to me like your article is implying.

  • Cheryl Godwin

    You don’t know the whole story, so don’t judge. Mom could have been killing his live stock or pets.

  • Karen krlley

    I put hunter orange collars on my labs..they look like deer when its hunting season with their light brown coats. I allow them to roam and realize hunters may mistake them for deer..I’m sure the hunter thought he had a deer and when he realized his mistake he made amends…hero or not, it was the RIGHT thing to do. My names….Huey, Duey and Louie….

  • scars

    I’m glad he chose to do the right thing, after completely doing the wrong thing the first time around. Still doesn’t make him a hero. And a wildlife biologist who doesn’t actually have any respect for wildlife? Sadly, I’m not surprised.

    • GetReal

      Part of a wildlife biologist’s job is to determine the carrying capacity of a given area; in other words, how many, in this case, mountain lions, can this particular area provide habitat and prey for? When the area can sustain more mountain lions, you alter factors over which you have control to increase that likelihood: introduction of new prey species, prohibition of hunting, etc.

      When the given area is near, at, or above carrying capacity, the population needs to be reduced, or the specific animals in question will starve to death, or, as in the case with white-tailed deer, have many negative interactions with people. The way this is typically done is to introduce a predator species, (being an apex predator, the cougar has no natural predators), or open the species to hunting.

      Since you demonstrate great sympathy for the mountain lions, do you think it preferable for a bunch of them to starve to death? This would include many babies like the ones rescued, since, if the mother cannot eat sufficient fresh meat, she will stop producing milk BEFORE she starves to death. The babies would be the first casualties.

  • Belsma

    Good grief. Well, at least the babies won’t be able to be hunted, but now they are in captivity. Catch 22.

    • GetReal

      Murder is a legal term that basically means “the unlawful taking of human life.” When the state executes a prisoner condemned to death, technically, at least, it is not murder, as it was ordered by a judge or jury.

      Murder can also mean “to kill in an inhumane or barbarous manner.” Considering that hunting mountain lions is only now allowed since their numbers have increased to the point that they are attacking people, and also considering that the article does not imply that the hunter had to shoot the mountain lion repeatedly, neither definition of murder applies to this case.

      You are not thinking, you are emoting. While a well balanced person tempers their thoughts with their emotions, it is also required that they temper their emotions with reason. When a person allows their emotions to run their lives at the expense of reason, you can wind up in a real mess.

      Hitler said “Use emotion for the many, reserve reason for the few,” It sure worked on the German people.

  • GetReal

    He was probably hunting mountain lion, which IS legal in many states.

    The article reads that the hunter, in addition to being a retired wildlife biologist, “didn’t realize the cougar had cubs until it was too late”, which means, (for those of you that can’t figure it out), while examining the mountain lion he had just killed, noticed that she was a nursing mother, (not that hard for those with eyes and brains). I doubt the mountain lion wore a T-shirt that read “Nursing Mother” on it. I doubt the hunter shot her from 2 feet away. It IS likely that the distance from which he shot her was sufficient to preclude his determining that she was a nursing mother BEFORE she was shot.

    In some areas of the US, the cougar’s habitat is being reduced to the point that there are occasional attacks of humans. That being the case, the states are allowing a certain number of cougars to be taken annually to reduce their numbers. While it may be easy for you to say they shouldn’t be hunted when you live somewhere you don’t have to worry about it, I’m sure if your daughter were attacked and dragged into the woods by a mountain lion, you would have a different view.

    • Julie

      I hope people don’t take your words as a call to kill innocent animals because someone has experienced an unfortunate tragedy. When the killer whale killed its trainer, should people be allowed to shoot any killer whale. Should people be allowed to kill any dog because there are evil people that train theirs to attack? Even worse. If a family member is killed in a car crash by another driver, does that give me the right to shoot at drivers going down the road? You offer a very poor excuse for killing an animal.

      • GetReal

        You are confusing innocent with an animal following the instinct it has: the young woman jogging is innocent of any crime, the mountain lion attacking her and dragging her into the woods to eat her is following the natural instinct with which it was born.

        People will continue to have negative encounters with animals: due to the increasing numbers of vehicle collisions with deer, (occasionally resulting in human fatalities), many municipalities are allowing deer hunting where it had previously been banned. It is the same problem with the mountain lion; because of previously being on protected lists, (with complete bans on hunting), the mountain lion population has dramatically rebounded.

        The mountain lion, like many upper level predators, often prey on easier targets. Which prey species is more likely to result in a mountain lion sustaining an injury during an attempt to kill the live animal it requires to feed itself and cubs? A bull moose, or a fifteen year old young lady jogging through the woods?

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