One killed, one injured in mountain lion attack near North Bend

NORTH BEND, Wash. — Emergency crews responded around 11:20 a.m. Saturday to a mountain lion attack in foothills near North Bend.

Two mountain bikers were attacked. One was killed.

The biker killed was identified Sunday as SJ Brooks, an avid bicyclist and ride leader, KIRO 7's Deborah Horne reports.

It was the first time a cougar killed anyone in Washington state for nearly 100 years.

The injured biker, 31, was taken to Harborview for treatment of serious injuries. Hospital officials said Saturday afternoon he was awake and alert.

Sunday morning, the hospitalized 31-year-old was in satisfactory condition.

"He said he had his whole entire head in the jaws of this animal," Capt. Alan Myers of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife said.  "And was being shaken around very, very horribly."

When responders found the biker who was killed, the mountain lion was still standing over his body.

Wildlife officials say the cougar's behavior was surprising.

Officials found and euthanized the mountain lion believed responsible for the killing around 4:30 p.m. Saturday evening. They hope a necropsy will help explain why he would attack two humans until one of them was dead.

The 31-year-old man said he and his friend were mountain biking in the Lake Hancock forest area at about 11 a.m. Saturday when they realized they were being chased by the big cat.

"They stopped and they made a lot of noise," said Myers. "Which is exactly what we counsel people to do."

But then the attack took a tragic turn.

"The two victims then took a minute and were catching their breath about this amazing, incredibly scary event that just occurred," Myers said. "And suddenly the victim who's now in Harborview was attacked again by this cougar. It latched onto his head."

The man who managed to escape watched his friend run. The cougar chased after him and killed him.

Hikers were asked to stay away from the Tolt Reservoir/ Hancock Road area.

Myers says the cougar's behavior is baffling.

"The fact that it stayed in close proximity to these folks and attacked and stayed with them is highly, highly unusual," he said.

Wildlife officials say that at 100 pounds, the cougar was a big cat, a male, 3-4 years old.

The last fatal mountain lion attack in the United States occurred in 2008 in New Mexico, The News Tribune reports, citing several sources.

The last fatal attack in Washington apparently occurred in 1924 in Olema when Jimmy Fehlhaber, 13, was killed.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions, are the largest members of the cat family in Washington state, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Mountain lions can be found throughout Washington state, Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say, where suitable cover and prey are.

Officials with the Department of Fish and Wildlife offer this advice to anyone who encounters a cougar in the wild:

  • Stop, stand tall and don't run. Pick up small children. Don't run. A cougar's instinct is to chase.
  • Do not approach the animal, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens.
  • Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
  • If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
  • If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains a cougar incident tracking map. View it here or below.

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