Your advice counteracts known professional advice. You need to MAKE direct eye contact, make yourself as big and loud as possible, give the cat a way out, DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK AND DO NOT RUN (the person who was killed RAN from the cougar), because running makes their instinct to kick in > meaning if you're running away, you are PREY.
If it follows you or acts aggressively, don’t back down: be loud, bare your teeth, and maintain eye contact. Keep making yourself as large as possible, and start thinking about what potential weapons you might be able to use—a walking stick is a good option. The goal: make sure the cougar sees you as a threat, not as prey. If the worst-case scenario comes to life and the cougar attacks, fight back and aim for the eyes and the face.
The two people attacked had bikes they could have used as weapons.
I keep reading that there was something wrong with this cougar. Was there? Seems to me that the animal thought the fast moving animals on bikes were prey. It initially ran away from them, as they succeeded in scaring it off. They made the mistake of not believing it would return. It chased them again when they got back on their bikes and began to ride. It then killed the person that ran from it, the person that could have turned and attacked it when it bit the first person.
Will human beings ever admit they are the problem? Do animals have a right to exist anywhere? Humans encroach on wild life territory, take over every bit of it for development or recreation and then when wild animals behave like wild animals they are murdered to satisfy human beings.
Was gonna chime in to point out (like @ 2) that I've seen/heard to keep & maintain eye contact.
As to why folks are speculating that there was something wrong with it, I get the impression it was just based on the description of the cat's being "emaciated."
It is terrifying as fuck when you imagine a cat pouncing a fleeing mouse then up-size that to human scale...a giant cat bearing down! Horrific. And one friend said he looked back and saw him getting mauled. Nightmares
"If you see a cougar, get big, avoid eye contact, slowly back away"
...And if the cougar has NO eyes, avoid all contact. (haha)
Seriously though, MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT. You want to see what the cat is going to do, and you want the cat (an ambush predator) to know that you are watching it.
In other jungles with big cats, people sometimes wear masks on the back of their heads, so that they appear to have eyes on both sides of their heads.
All that said, it's pretty hard to train to defend yourself against a supple killing machine with a taste for blood, that can out-run you, and sporting razor sharp claws.
Yes, sure, "back away slowly", but fuck man, what would you actually do when stricken by such mortal fear?
@2 xina, @3 mike blob and @6 treacle are right. Plus, the cougar in question was described as emaciated----thin from extreme hunger.
This sounds exactly like something lout of "Day of the Animals", when ozone depletion and over-development caused living creatures to rebel against humankind.
@5 marilynsue: See xina's comment @2. This problem is increasing along with the sharp rise in the human population.
@1 Whenever my sister comes out and we go for a hike, she says she hopes to see a mountain lion. I always have to remind her that if you see one it's probably because it is eating your face.
I live just out of town in N. Idaho and have seen cougars twice. One was under my deck when I stepped out onto it one morning. Neither attacked me, although the one under my deck was curious about what/who had spooked him out from under her cozy resting place. My neighbor came across one in his driveway last winter. There are an estimated 12-15 in the drainage of the low mountain we live next to. Forest Ranger once told me we're probably unknowingly watched by one just about daily when walking our dogs, not as potential prey but just out of curiosity and concern for their own safety.
The reason people are saying this cat was likely sick in some way is because these attacks are so incredibly rare despite what for the cats is pretty much non-stop opportunity all day everyday to attack anywhere they live in close proximity to humans, which is a lot of places. That's especially true where they have plenty of food (they prefer ungulates, like deer), which is almost certainly the case in the N. Bend area. A lot of U.S. attacks have been in southern California, where hunger and disease are bigger issues for them and where, sure enough, cats involved in fatal attacks were most often later found to be undernourished.
I've seen people talking about carrying guns, machetes, clubs, etc. but the best defense is bear spray, if you're concerned about it. A study by US Fish & Wildlife in Alaska found bear spray to be significantly more effective than guns when fending off bears. You don't need to have precise aim with it, as it comes in a cone shape. It's also easier to get to and deploy. We had a hunter mauled by a Grizzly a few years ago, and his hunting buddy used his rifle to defend them...and managed to shoot his buddy who was being mauled. Bear spray works, even against cats, and it doesn't kill the critter...or your partner; just makes 'em run off.
People need to calm down and remember that this is only the 2nd fatal cougar attack in Washington in the last 100 years; there's never been one in Idaho, and we have them all over. That's despite the fact that they have opportunities to attack someone somewhere pretty much throughout the day everyday. They don't, though. You're statistically more likely to be struck by lightning 3 several days in a row.
We don't know what we would do when confronted with this situation.
These two guys needed to stick together. As soon as one of them ran, the cougar chased him, then the other guy escaped while the cougar was mauling the first guy. If they had stayed together and fought back, the chances both of them would have lived would be very high
They killed a cougar before they even knew if it was the right ONE? WTF? Does nobody have tranquilizers or tazers?
@10 FerretMom: I was just about to ask that same question.
We need a word choice map to decide exactly where "mountain lion" (see this post's headline) is used (i suspect the American Southwest area); but around these here parts they're: cougars. Elsewhere they're pumas but round here theys cougars. In exotic lands to the east they maybe panthers or even catamounts, but here, they're cougars ..dangflangit.
@10, the cougar in question was found in its den guarding the body of the victim, it was shot at the time but not killed and then tracked with dogs a short distance and euthanized. There is pretty much zero chance they have the wrong cat. For those questioning the cyclists, the victim who was killed ran deliberately to distract the cat who was already in the process of mauling the victim who survived. From the additional details coming out it does sound like there was likely something wrong with the cat and/or it was habituated to people because the two victims did what they were supposed to and the cat didn't back down. But everyone should pay attention to @8, this kind of attack is exceedingly rare, and there are some basic things you can do to protect yourself in 99% of encounters.
" For those questioning the cyclists, the victim who was killed ran deliberately to distract the cat who was already in the process of mauling the victim who survived. "
He ran on purpose to distract the cat? That is incredible. Most people would have tried to punch or kick the animal.
If you're out in the woods you should know animals. My normally docile MinPin once took on a Mt. Biker trespassing on our property and the poor guy fled and screamed as his ankles were being nipped at - and to make matters worse our pug and pomeranian joined in the attack. We also have bear and bobcat here and I've seen cougar tracks in the snow.
Well this incident just proves it-
When hiking in cougar country and you are unable to procure pepper spray, your second-best protection is a companion you can outrun.
@8 Morty: That's good, sound advice and recommendations. Well said and thank you.
What with all the mass building construction and development, decreasing the natural habitat of cougars and other wildlife (i.e., bears, wolves, et al) I'm surprised that there haven't been more than just a couple of unprovoked attacks reported over this past century.
Always hike with a laser pointer and some good catnip. Ball of yarn isn't a bad idea either
"almost 40 percent of people who backed away slowly escaped without serious injury or death"
Oh, forty percent, good times, good times.
Let's ease up on criticizing the people involved, then? Taking the 40% over the 30% is obviously better on average, but it's no silver bullet.
I wonder how many people even get a chance to pull out pepper spray.
If either guy had been carrying, all three might have survived. Just a warning shot might have been enough to scare off the cougar for good. Worst case scenario, they'd have to shoot the cougar.
@12, "mountain lion" is used in California.
“Deliberately” ran away to “distract”, eh.
I’m sorry, and I talked about this with my buddies in a rural restaurant today, but if a cat is on your friend’s face you have to attack it, or you deserve to be the one who dies.
Friends on Bikes is expressly a cycling club for "women of color", yet neither of these members were women and the one who was merely mauled was white.
Or they were women.
My heart goes out to SJ’s family and community. Glad Isaac is stable and hope for quick healing. Condolences to the Friends on Bikes and the Hillman collaborators community. I hope if Isaac needs support for expenses, we will find out about it here.
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