A cougar attacked two mountain-bikers in Washington state Saturday morning, killing one and seriously injuring the other. The biker who was killed had fled into the woods to get away from the cougar after the initial attack and the animal chased him down, officials said.
The cougar was found standing over the man’s body before it ran from wildlife officials, reported USA Today.
Wildlife officials with the help of two dogs tracked down and killed the 100-pound male cougar, who was 3 or 4 years old. Capt. Alan Myers of the Washington Fish and Wildlife police told the Seattle Times the animal was found up a tree about 50 to 200 yards away from the man’s body. Officials plan to test DNA from the cougar and the victim to make sure they caught the same animal that attacked the men.
The cougar attack occurred on an isolated mountain road near North Bend, about 30 miles east of Seattle.
The injured biker was airlifted to a Seattle hospital with serious injuries, but his condition was later listed as satisfactory, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office told USA Today.
He was attacked first, then jumped on his bike to get to an area where he could get cell phone service to call for help.
The cougar “jumped the first victim and attacked him,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the sheriff’s office told the Times. “The second victim turned and started to run away. The cougar saw that and went after the second victim. The first victim saw his friend being pulled by the cougar. He got on his bike and started to bike away.”
Abbott said the man rode for about 2 miles before he could make a call.
“When the deputies and medics responded, it took them about 30 minutes to locate the second victim. He was deceased. The cougar was standing on top of him,” said Abbott.
Officials have not released the names of either man.
A man in the area provided reporters a video of a cougar he had spotted recently in the same area. Officials said it could not be determined if it was the same animal, given that there are a number of cougars in the region.
Cougar attacks on humans, and particularly fatal attacks, are rare. Since 1890, cougars have attacked people fewer than 100 times, according to the nonprofit Cougar Network, and about 20 of those attacks have been fatal.
A mountain biker’s partially eaten body was found in 2004 in Southern California on the same day another biker was attacked in the same area.