A cyclist in the United States has been mauled to death by a cougar and a second seriously injured when they were attacked by the animal in Washington State.
TV station KIRO 7 reports that according to the Washington Department of Fish and Game, it is only the second human death caused by a cougar – also known as a mountain lion – in the state during the past 100 years.
Officials later tracked down the animal involved in Saturday’s incident, a male aged three or four years and weighing 100 pounds, and shot it dead.
It was found standing over the body of the dead cyclist, a 32-year-old male, whom the cougar had dragged to its den following the attack.
The cyclists had been riding mountain bikes on gravel tracks in North Bend, 30 miles from Seattle, when the incident happened.
The 31-year-old man who survived the attack phoned for help and was airlifted to hospital, where he is now said to be in a satisfactory condition.
Captain Alan Myers from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife revealed some the survivor‘s recollection of the attack, saying: “He said he had his whole entire head in the jaws of this animal, and was being shaken around very, very horribly.”
The riders realised they were being chased by the big cat at around 11am on Saturday morning, Captain Myers continued.
"So they stopped and they made a lot of noise, 'which is exactly what we counsel people to do.
"The two victims then took a minute and were catching their breath about this amazing, incredibly scary event that just occurred and suddenly the victim who's now in Harborview was attacked again by this cougar. It latched onto his head."
The animal then pursued the other man, who was trying to escape by running into the woods.
Attacks by cougars on humans are extremely rare, with the animals usually shying away from contact with people.
"The fact that it stayed in close proximity to these folks and attacked and stayed with them is highly, highly unusual," Captain Myers added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.