Oregon’s CANNON BEACH — The popular Cannon Beach will reopen to guests on Monday after a cougar that scaled a huge rock off the coast of northwest Oregon over the weekend apparently gave up looking for feathery prey.
The huge cat was spotted on the well-known Haystack Rock early on Sunday, and a number of departments and agencies, including local and state police, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Parks and Recreation Department, responded. In order to safeguard people and allow it to return to its natural habitat, the beach was closed.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, authorities later verified that the animal had left. On Sunday night, a game camera recorded a picture of it departing the rock, and tracks were later discovered leading away, according to federal officials.
State biologists think the cougar went to Haystack Rock on Saturday night around low tide to hunt birds, a habit they haven’t seen there before.
Although cougars thrive in the coastal forests, it is unusual for one to have made its way to Haystack Rock, according to Paul Atwood, a scientist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Although deer are their main food source, they will also eat elk, other animals, and birds.
However, cougars have been observed visiting other comparable tiny offshore islands on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula, according to Megan Nagel, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The summer months are a haven for seabirds and other marine life at Haystack Rock, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and protected as a component of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
On the formation, tufted puffins, common murres, pigeon guillemots, and black oystercatchers rear their young from March through September.
To safeguard nesting and roosting birds, a portion of the rock is permanently off-limits to the general public.