Two friends riding their bikes in a mountainous, wooded area of Washington State on Saturday morning were attacked by a cougar, which killed one of them in the state’s first such fatality in more than 90 years, the New York Times reports.
The authorities said the two cyclists saw the cougar, a 100-pound male, in pursuit and one of them screamed. They stopped, got off their bikes and made noise to ward it off as people in such situations are advised to do, the authorities said. The attack happened around Lake Hancock, near Snoqualmie, WA, about 30 miles east of Seattle.
At first, it appeared to work. The cougar fled.
But as they were about to pedal away, the cougar returned, Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Office said. It jumped on Isaac M. Sederbaum, putting its mouth around his head and shaking him. It released him and chased after the other cyclist, Sonja J. Brooks, who had started to run.
As Sederbaum, who had been bloodied but survived, rode away from the scene, he could see the cougar dragging Brooks into the woods, Sergeant Abbott said. Sederbaum later told the authorities that he had to travel about two miles before getting a cell phone signal and calling 911.
By the time help arrived, it was too late. Officers found the body of Brooks, who was known as SJ, underneath a log and debris in what appeared to be the cougar’s den. The animal was atop the body, said Capt. Alan Myers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police.
“Normally we respond to a cougar attack on somebody’s livestock,” Captain Myers said. “People are not on the menu for cougars. They normally want nothing to do with us.”
After locating the animal, a deputy fired at it and it fled. The authorities later tracked it to a nearby gully using hounds, Captain Myers said. A hound chased the cougar into a tree, and officers fired at least four rounds. The cougar was knocked out of the tree and was fatally shot as it tried to escape.
When it comes to “predators that kill a human being,” the department policy is to destroy the animal, Captain Myers said.
Sederbaum was taken by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Sederbaum, 31, was upgraded to satisfactory condition, the hospital reported.
The death of Brooks, 32, was the first time a cougar had killed a human in Washington since 1924.