'Extremely Rare' Cougar Attack Leaves 1 Dead, 1 Injured

Both victims were riding bikes in a remote part of the state
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
Washington State Fish and Wildlife Police leave the scene of a fatal cougar attack Saturday   (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via AP)

(Newser) – One mountain biker was killed and a second left seriously injured in a Washington State cougar attack over the weekend. The two men, who've not been identified, were biking in a remote area east of Seattle when the predator struck, KING5 reports. Rich Beausoleil, the state's bear and cougar specialist, said this was only the second fatality in the state in the last 94 years. Wildlife authorities say the injured man was alerted to the cougar upon hearing the screams of his companion. Realizing they were being stalked, officials say the men did what experts say to do: make noise and distract the animal. The efforts appeared to work, but the cougar returned after the men believed it had been scared away. The first man was attacked and dragged away. As the surviving man rode off, he was attacked but was able to climb back onto his bike and escape.

The survivor rode 2 miles to find cell phone reception and call for help. Sgt. Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff's Office told the AP when rescuers arrived it took them about 30 minutes to locate the second victim, who was dead with the cougar standing on top of him. "The deputies shot at him and spooked him, and he ran off," he said. It took several hours before authorities found the cougar up a tree and killed it. While the cougar was being hunted, rescuers had to wait to retrieve the dead man's body. The surviving victim was initially listed in serious condition but has been upgraded to satisfactory. Cougars, also known as mountain lions and pumas, are a protected species, the Seattle Times reports. Each year, the state allows 250 cougars to be hunted and killed in 50 designated zones.

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