Reports have indicated that a cougar who killed a mountain biker and attacked another one near Seattle may have been emaciated.
S.J. Brooks, 32, died of her injuries and 31-year-old Isaac Sederbaum survived the ordeal. After turning away from Sederbaum, the cat pounced on Brooks before dragging her into the woods, killing her.
When officials arrived at the scene, they found the big cat on Brooks’s body, which the cougar had covered up with debris. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife then euthanized the animal.
Biologist Mark Elbroch told National Geographic that it’s a rare, “abnormal” attack, suggesting that it might have been emaciated.
“What this mountain lion did to these people is totally abnormal,” said Elbroch. “This was an animal that was not healthy, and in its last attempts to try to survive did something it ordinarily wouldn’t.”
The killing is quite rare, and it’s only the second time in the past 100 years that a mountain lion killed a human in Washington state, KING5 reported.
“The mountain lion you do not see is the one that’s hunting,” as Elbroch noted. “One that walks up aggressively is not hunting.”
Officials sent the cat’s carcass to Washington State University for a necropsy to find out if it had any health issues.
“When human beings get involved in it, such as killing predators, it backfires,” Brooks Fahy, director of Predator Defense, told KING5. “What we’ve learned is with wolves, cougars, and coyotes is actually killing them has the opposite effect, it throws them in what scientists refer to as social chaos.”
“Stereotypically, these are the animals that tend to let themselves be seen, and in quite a few of the attacks that have happened, it’s been younger animals,” Fahy said.
Retired biologist Gary Koehler told the station that it might not be related to hunting. “It’ll probably remain a mystery,” said Koehler.
Should anyone get into a situation in the wild with a mountain lion, Elbroch offered a few tips.
He said that people should fight back.
“Most of the attacks over the last chunk of years in which people have attempted to defend themselves, they have successfully done so—they’ve scared off or even killed the puma,” Elbroch told National Geographic.
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