Reported cougar sighting triggers lockdown at Medford school

MEDFORD, Ore. – A reported cougar sighting triggered a lockdown at a Medford elementary school.

The Medford School District said on Friday, there was a possible cougar sighting about three blocks from Lone Pine Elementary in east Medford.

A district spokesperson said they weren’t sure the exact neighborhood where the alleged sighting occurred, but it was close enough to the school to prompt a temporary lockdown which was lifted a short time later.

Medford police responded to the report along with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They found no evidence of a cougar in the area.

MPD said there have been false reports in that area before.

Lone Pine Elementary Principal Gerry Flock sent out the following letter after the lockdown:

Dear Lone Pine Families,

Today, May 3, 2019, we received a phone call from our School Resource Officer, Ian McDonald at 12:06 PM that there was a possible cougar sighting at approximately 2 to 3 blocks away from Lone Pine Elementary. SRO McDonald was NOT recommending our school go to our Precautionary Lock-Out procedures at that time, however, in the interest of safety of our students who were playing outside during lunch recess, I decided to initiate the Precautionary Lock-Out protocol that we have practiced multiple times.

Approximately 15 minutes later, SRO McDonald again notified us that the threat had been secured, so the Precautionary Lock-Out was released at approximately 12:30 PM, and we resumed normal educational operation.

At this time, I have no further information about the sighting of the animal. I do know that our Medford Police partners are working diligently to follow up on this report, and are constantly keeping us informed.

The students were not informed that this threat was caused due to a cougar sighting. It was not our intent to cause any further alarm among our students, and ask that you will have a conversation with them about the events of today.

I will say that our Lone Pine staff and students exercised the Precautionary Lock-Out protocol in an excellent manner. We are thankful for the practice and vigilance that led to everyone remaining safe today.

Gerry Flock, Principal

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