Wildlife sanctuary launches investigation into cougar attack

SHERWOOD, Ore. - The wild-animal sanctuary where a woman was killed by a cougar on Saturday said that it's launched an investigation into what happened.

The WildCat Haven Sanctuary issued a press release saying a gate to a smaller cage where the animals were supposed to be locked up was working properly.

"Only one of the three cats was secured inside the lockout when the attack occurred. Two others were found inside the main enclosure," the release said.

The release says Tim Harrison, the director of Outreach for Animals, is investigating the incident. He's also reviewing the facility's protocols and auditing it.

"The main thing is I think I can probably be the most objective," Harrison told KATU's Erica Nochlin. "I'm going right down the middle. What can we do to make things better? That's what we're going to try and do."

Renee Radziwon-Chapman died from what investigators said were injuries consistent with a big-cat attack. WildCat Haven has said she violated protocol by entering a cage with two cougars in it by herself.

Radziwon's family said they don't believe she broke any rules, and she had expressed concerns about working alone just days before the attack.

The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are still investigating.

The USDA will try to determine if any noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act contributed to the attack, spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said.

Oregon OSHA also will review the sanctuary's safety protocols and training, spokeswoman Melanie Mesaros said.