Family shoots four preying cougars in one day

The Associated Press
4/27/02 5:06 PM

APPLEGATE, Ore. -- Jani and Tina Bango's ordeal began with finding the half-eaten bodies of their two pet goats hidden beneath some grass, and continued through the evening as they were forced to shoot four mountain lions that strolled onto their property.

Over a six-hour span Wednesday, the Bangos legally shot and killed the cougars that came into their rural Applegate Valley yard to feed on the dead goats, killed by one of the giant felines earlier in the day and set aside for later.

"We were prepared to deal with one, but this was just crazy," said Tina Bango, 32. "It's something we hope to never see again."

Cougars are normally secretive and loners. Rarely will cougars be seen in groups larger than just a mother and perhaps two young kittens, biologists said.

But this pack of healthy mountain lions appeared to be a mother, two juvenile offspring about ready to head out on their own, and a larger male that perhaps was the female's new suitor or simply a "nomad" that had joined the family, said biologist Mark Vargas of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"I've never heard of a group of cougars that big," Vargas said. "It's amazing."

The killings were all legal under Oregon's damage-control laws because the cougars had killed livestock. The animals also were deemed a threat because they brazenly strolled about in daylight with little concern for humans, Vargas said.

"Once they get one free meal like that, they normally end up coming back," Vargas said.

The Bangos and their two children, ages 4 and 5, live along Thompson Creek Road about four miles from the Applegate Store, in the thick of southwestern Oregon's cougar population.

The Bangos reported the goat killing to the ODFW, then prepared to take armed shifts watching for the cougar to return for more feeding.

Jani Bango shot the first cougar through his bedroom window with a 30.06-caliber rifle at about 4:30 p.m.

"We thought, OK, problem solved," Tina Bango said.

An hour later, the couple spotted two more cougars - one strolling down the family's driveway and the other sipping water in an adjacent irrigation ditch. They shot those. The last cat showed up around 10:15 p.m. and was shot feeding on the goats in the yard.

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