Strange Behavior: ‘Something Wrong’ With Killer Cougar

‘They did everything they were supposed to do. But something was wrong with this cougar.’ – King County sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Abbott

A 3-year-old cougar that attacked two cyclists, killing one, in Washington state was emaciated and behaving abnormally, authorities told the Associated Press. Saturday’s deadly attack in North Bend marked the first cougar-related fatality in Washington in 100 years. (Depending on the region and vernacular, some refer to cougars as mountain lions, pumas, or panthers.)

After scaring the animal away and recovering the body of 32-year-old S.J. Brooks, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police used hounds to track and euthanize the male cougar.

Brooks’ riding partner, Isaac Sederbaum, 31, also suffered serious injuries in the attack. But authorities said Sunday medical personnel upgraded his condition to “satisfactory.”

WDFW Police Capt. Alan Myers told the AP the cougar was “emaciated,” weighing approximately 100 pounds. For reference, a typical 3-year-old male cougar weighs 140–180 pounds.

mountain lion
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Officials also confirmed Sunday they shipped the cougar to Washington State University in Pullman for a brain necropsy in hopes of learning what prompted the animal’s unusually aggressive behavior, according to the Seattle Times.

“They did what they were supposed to, which is make noise and distract the cougar,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott of the King County Sheriff’s Office told the Seattle Times.

Abbot said that despite the men’s actions, the cougar continued to stalk them before attacking. “They did everything they were supposed to do,” he said. “But something was wrong with this cougar.”

Cyclist Killed By Mountain Lion in Washington

mountain lion

The tragedy took place in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in North Bend, Washington, near Seattle. Two men were biking when a cougar took chase.

CNN and affiliate KOMO report authorities pronounced one man dead at the scene and took the other man to a nearby hospital. The injured rider had to pedal more than 2 miles to get cell phone reception. Authorities arrived and transported the injured man to a medical facility.

The King County Sheriff’s Office said the riders did nothing to provoke the mountain lion. In a news broadcast, Alan Myers of the WDFW detailed the incident. He said one rider heard “a scream from his partner and [saw] they’re being chased by a cougar.”

Bikers Fought Mountain Lion During Attack

cougar mountain lion
Photo credit: Eric Kilby

The men fought the cougar, CNN reported, “swinging their bikes, and the cougar ran back in the woods.” The CNN report said one man who survived “had his entire head in the cougar’s mouth, but his friend ran away and the animal chased him.”

Officials later arrived at the scene to find the cougar standing over the dead man’s body. Authorities shot and killed the cougar.

Myers said he advises anyone facing a cougar to make a lot of noise. “Scream and holler, and throw things at it,” he said. He iterated that people should not try to run away from a cougar.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.
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