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Monday, December 22, 2014         

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Officials: Cougar killed Oregon sanctuary worker

By Gosia Wozniacka

Associated Press

POSTED:



PORTLAND, Ore. >> The longtime employee killed by a cougar this weekend at a suburban Portland animal sanctuary died of multiple bite wounds, according to autopsy results released today.

Dr. Christopher Young of the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office said 36-year-old Renee Radziwon of Portland had "devastating injuries in the critical areas of head and neck."

Radziwon died Saturday night inside a cougar enclosure at WildCat Haven in Sherwood, where she worked as head keeper for the past eight years.

The Clackamas County sheriff's office finished looking into the attack and concluded there was no crime to be investigated, spokesman Sgt. Robert Wurpes said.

The sheriff's office said two cougars were inside the enclosure, but investigators were working on the theory that just one attacked the woman. Radziwon died at the scene.

"Unfortunately it seems like a pretty cut-and-dried event," Wurpes said. "She was in the enclosure, and the cat attacked her."

The sanctuary said in a statement Sunday that while protocol calls for more than one worker inside an enclosure containing animals, Radziwon apparently broke that rule and was alone with two cats.

But Radziwon's mother told The Associated Press her daughter had expressed concerns about safety measures at the sanctuary before the attack.

"There was no one there to help her. There was no one at that sanctuary. They left her completely alone," Carol Radziwon said by phone from Pennsylvania.

The sanctuary did not return multiple calls for comment from the AP. Renee Radziwon was the only staff person listed on the sanctuary's website.

Melanie Mesaros, spokeswoman for Oregon OSHA, said the agency will be investigating the incident, including looking at training, safety protocols, evidence at the scene and interviews with workers and potential witnesses.

WildCat Haven is a nonprofit that rescues wild animals such as cougars, bobcats, tigers and other wild cats. Cougars are native to the American West. The sanctuary is 17 miles south of Portland, in a secluded, wooded area.

The facility has an exhibitor's license, the USDA said. It is closed to the public but can conduct tours for donors.

The USDA is looking into the incident to determine whether any noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act contributed to the attack, spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said. Two routine inspections conducted by the federal agency at the sanctuary in 2011 and 2012 showed no violations, according to USDA records.





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