Cougar attack has people asking how mountain biker death, euthanization could have been prevented

There has been an outpouring of condolences on social media, and a lot of other reaction too --including people wondering if the death of both the mountain biker and the cougar could?€™ve been prevented.

Friends and family are grieving the death of a 32-year-old Seattle man who was mauled to death by a cougar as he and a friend were biking near North Bend.

The cyclist killed has been identified as SJ Brooks. His friend, 31-year-old Isaac Sederbaum, is recovering at Harborview.

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There has been an outpouring of condolences on social media, and a lot of other reaction, too --including people wondering if the death of both the mountain biker and the cougar could’ve been prevented.

Some said it would’ve helped if the bikers had a firearm. Others are wondering if the cougar needed to be killed and could’ve been relocated instead.

It's peaceful again in the wooded area where cougar attack killed a man and seriously hurt his friend. But people out here are staying wary.

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“If I was out here walking or riding a bike, I’d definitely be a little more on edge,” said Zach Wite, who was driving the trails with friends Sunday.

It's only the second deadly attack in Washington State in 100 years.

But the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said the population boom in Western Washington is bringing more contact between people and wildlife.

A trail camera near where the bikers were attacked caught a cougar on video a few weeks ago.

“It’s scary. It’s a risk. The fact that it's wild out here, and you have to understand this is their place, too,” said Steve Mickle, who owns the trail camera and lives in Redmond.

The attack has many people on social media saying the mountain bikers should've had a gun.

While out here in the forest, KIRO7 ran into a former Marine who said he chooses to be armed.

“That’s exactly why I carry when I'm out in the woods,” said Jason Peebles, of North Bend. “Nothing beats having a sidearm if you're trained to use it. It could've scared it away,” he said.

After the deadly attack Saturday, Fish and Wildlife used hounds to track down the cougar and euthanized it by shooting it.

That brought outcry on social media, with people asking, “Why did the animal have to be killed?” and comments and tweets like, “The animal was in its habitat! It shouldn't have been killed. This is so wrong."

Fish and Wildlife said it was necessary.

“Absolutely. An animal that kills and attacks human beings is going to be euthanized,” said Capt. Alan Myers, with WA Department of Fish and Wildlife police.

He says humans not normally prey for cougars and the cougar's behavior during the Saturday attack was unusual.

They now must do a necropsy to study its brain.

KIRO 7 was also told, it is department policy to euthanize any animal that kills a human. And even relocating it could put other humans at risk for future attacks.

“Once it’s gotten a taste for humans, other people are at risk,” Myers said over the phone Sunday.

To legally use a firearm on a cougar in self-defense, you must believe the only way of preventing harm is by using the weapon.

“The killing of a cougar in self-defense or defense of another should be reasonable and justified. A person taking such action must have reasonable belief that the cougar poses a threat of serious physical harm, that this harm is imminent, and the action is the only reasonable available means to prevent that harm.”

There are about 2,000 cougars in Washington State.