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UPDATE Cougar 'Standoff' Over on N. Oregon Coast: Cat Has Left Haystack Rock / Cannon Beach

Published 07/16/23 at 3:11 p.m. - Updated 07/17/23 at 6:41 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cougar 'Standoff' on N. Oregon Coast: Officials Wait for Cat to Leave Haystack Rock / Cannon Beach

UPDATE: CANNON BEACH BACK OPEN - COUGAR HAS LEFT. Full Story Here Cougar Leaves Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock, This Part of Oregon Coast Back Open - Nehalem Bay still has a cougar situation

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A series of cougar sightings has resulted in some closures on the north Oregon coast, and that includes a kind of standoff on Sunday night as authorities are waiting for a cougar to leave Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock. (Khula Makhalira. Taken at 6:40 AM.)

The cougar situation in Cannon Beach started about 6:30 a.m., causing the entire beach in that area to be closed. That is still happening at this hour – about 8 p.m. on Sunday.

The beach closure will last as long as the cat is there.

Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) told Oregon Coast Beach Connection this is a first, at least in modern times.

“This is the first confirmed sighting of a cougar at Haystack Rock,” they said.

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Earlier this weekend, Nehalem Bay State Park had to close the eastern part of the Loop Trail because of “multiple cougar sightings.”

“For your safety, please remain off this section of trail while the signs and caution ribbon are up,” said Oregon State Parks and Recreation.

In Cannon Beach, a veritable small army of responders are in the Haystack Rock area of the north Oregon coast town, blocking off the beaches and trying to keep both the cougar and the public safe – as well as themselves.

The cougar showed up on the rock by dawn, presumably having arrived overnight. A handful of photos have made social media, showing an adult mountain lion (cougar) crawling around the rock structure.

Cannon Beach Police Department (CBPD) spokesman Bruce St. Dennis told Oregon Coast Beach Connection the big cat has not left.

“He's walking around various parts of the rock and has not been on the sand at all,” St. Dennis said. “Sometimes he's wandered to the west side of the rock where we can't see him, but jet skis can keep track of him there.”

Responding to the scene are members of Oregon State Police Game Troopers, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Parks, Haystack Rock Awareness Program, and Cannon Beach Fire. There are some personnel on jet skis.

St. Dennis said they had no clue which path the cougar took out onto the beach before dawn. Now, it's just a waiting game.

“The whole strategy is to make him feel comfortable enough to leave and go back to his own bed,” St. Dennis said. “We have a 2,000-foot-wide corridor cleared for him to leave.”

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They are hoping the cougar will at least take off after dark, and St. Dennis said it wasn't clear what would happen if the animal didn't.

Tranquilizing the cougar or trying to capture him isn't really an option, St. Dennis told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. Both situations put responders at great risk, as well as the cat.

“And that's just not a good ending for anyone,” St. Dennis said.


As of 9:30 p.m., the cougar is still on the rock. Also on scene are federal authorities from US Fish and Wildlife.

“Our program has been out on the beach to help answer questions and assist with crowd control for the majority of the day,” HRAP said. “As of now, the cougar is still on Haystack Rock. The hope is that as the tide recedes, the cougar will make its way back down.”

HRAP said a beachgoer spotted the cougar at 6:30 a.m. and alerted staff that was already out there: Lead Interpreter on Shift Michelle Schwegmann then reported it to police.




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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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