No clue to why cougar killed Washington cyclist

The cat was suffering no physical abnormalities to explain the rare attack on two humans in May
Don Jenkins

Capital Press

Published on July 19, 2018 9:54AM

A cougar stares down from a tree in Washington. State wildlife managers say a necropsy didn’t find any abnormalities to explain why a cougar attacked two cyclists in May, killing one.

Rich Beausoleil/Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

A cougar stares down from a tree in Washington. State wildlife managers say a necropsy didn’t find any abnormalities to explain why a cougar attacked two cyclists in May, killing one.


The cougar that killed a cyclist in Western Washington wasn’t suffering any physical abnormality that might explain the rare attack, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The 104-pound, 3-year-old male was lean, but had an adequate amount of body fat and wasn’t suffering from a virus, brain disease or poisoning, according to the department. Wildlife veterinarian Kristin Mansfield said explaining the animal’s unusual behavior would be speculation.

“It’s possible the person was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Cats hunt. It can happen. Thankfully, it’s very rare,” she said.

The cougar attacked Seattle residents Isaac Sederbaum, 31, and S.J. Brooks, 32, on May 19 near North Bend east of Seattle in the Cascade foothills. Sederbaum was seriously injured, and Brooks was killed. Brooks was the first person killed by a cougar since 1924, according to Fish and Wildlife. Some 18 other people had survived cougar attacks.

The cougar tested negatively for viruses such as rabies and canine distemper, and the presence of toxic elements such as lead and mercury. An examination of the brain revealed no diseases or signs of chronic stress, according to a necropsy report and laboratory results.

Fish and Wildlife officers responding to the attack chased and shot a cougar, which died of two gunshot wounds.

Officers are confident that they shot the cougar that attacked the cyclists. The department is awaiting the results of DNA analysis for conformation. The results are expected with the next month, Mansfield said.



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