Return to Lion Attacks Introduction and Table of Contents
"Hunters do things that hikers and other outdoor users don't do that makes them more likely to be attacked or at least have close encounters. Hunters use camouflage clothing, animal scents, animal calls (sometimes distress calls) and they often sit still or move very quietly and are out very early and very late in the day." - Wildlife Biologist, William Castillo, Oregon DFW
1953 (1 Unconfirmed Injury Report)
14 April. A man was walking along the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park in Texas. A cougar grabbed him by the pants leg. The man shouted aggressively and shook his leg, and the cat retreated. The name/age/size of the man and extent of any injuries were not noted. The cat was shot the next day by Park Ranger G. Sholly. Sources: (Paul Beier's Table; 1991) ("Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Page 119 & table page 195)
1962 (1 Unconfirmed Injury Report)
August. Grace Naismith was attacked by an underweight cougar at Deception Point on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She kicked the cat and knocked it away. It retreated into the brush. Her dog was mauled but she was not injured. The cougar was later killed. Source: "Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, table page 196
1966 (1 Non-injury Report found)
18 June (or October by some authorities). 16-year-old Ken Nash was rounding up cattle for his father on the family ranch near Chilcotin, BC, when a cougar appeared and chased him. As the terrified boy ran, he lost one of his rubber boots. The cougar jumped upon the boot, and this allowed the boy to dash back to safety at the farm home.
When his father later shot the underweight, adult, male cougar, pieces of the boot were found in its stomach along with the remains of a small animal.
Sources: (Paul Beier's Table; 1991) ("Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Page 57 & table page 197)
1978 (1 Non-injury Report)
22 November. In the early afernoon, Mr. T. Rives and his family were hiking along the Lost Mine trail in Big Bend National Park, Texas, when a "large, purring, tail-waving lion" ran toward Rives' 3-year-old son. The father raced toward the charging cat and pushed his son behind him. He stood in the trail face-to face with the "lion inches from him." The lion tired of this stand-off and walked off the trail, though it remained in nearby bushes. The family was able to leave with no further incident. Sources: ("Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Pages 119-120 & Table Page 200) (Paul Beier's Table; 1991)
1981 (1 Non-injury Report)
Date Not Given. A man on horseback was attacked by a spotted adult cougar near Oyster River on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He was not hurt. A month later in the same area, a wildlife control officer killed a spotted cougar which presumably was responsible for the attack on the man. It was a 1.5 year old female with details regarding her health and condition not given. Sources: ("Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Page 81 & Table Page 201) (Paul Beier's Table; 1991)
1983 (1 Non-injury Report)
Date Not Given. Nanse Browne was stalked by a mountain lion while out for a run. She wasn't hurt, and now she's doing the stalking. Browne has become one of the leaders of an unlikely new force in California politics: people who've had run-ins with big cats. Source: (Outside Magazine; Wildlife: I Am Cat Bait--Hear Me Roar; Laura Hilgers; 10/95)
1988 (1 Non-injury Report)
25 June. Two lions chased a German couple with a small son in the Green Valley Campground area of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in California. They reported one large lion with a smaller one. The Game Warden found both together, and neither moved when he approached. He shot the bigger one -- an 80-pound male -- first, and the smaller one didn't move. He then shot that one, a 63-pound male. Source; (San Diego Union-Tribune; 02/11/96, C-14)
1990 (2 Non-injury Reports)
27 July. A Montana state game warden was investigating a report of a mountain lion near Kalispell and as he was walking through the bush, he turned to see a large cougar stalking him. The warden fired two shots from his service revolver, but the lion didn't stop, so he used his shotgun to drop it right at his feet. Source: (Gary Gerhardt; Rocky Mountain News; 09/23/90)
27 July. A family living on Magnolia Road west of Boulder, Colorado, repeatedly tried to scare off a young male lion on their property. In the evening, while the husband was escorting his 4-year-old son to an outdoor bathroom, the lion confronted them, intensely watching the child. The father shot the animal. Source: (Gary Gerhardt; Rocky Mountain News; 09/23/90)
1991 (1 Report of a death very probably due to lion attack)
10 March. 3-year-old Travis Zweig of La Quinta, California, was feared killed by a mountain lion after he wandered away from his father who was chopping wood at a remote cabin near Pinon Pines, California. Searchers, combing rugged terrain for the boy, found evidence suggesting a mountain lion dragged him off, authorities say. Shoe prints thought to be the toddler's were found a half-mile from where Travis disappeared. Sheriff's Sargent Craig Kilday said the prints stopped at a rocky overhang where mountain lion prints were found. Where the shoe prints stopped, there was a slide area and what they believed to be drag marks. This would be the first fatality from a mountain lion attack in California since a boy was killed in 1890, according to the Orange County Cooperative Mountain Lion Study, and only a dozen such fatal attacks had taken place at the time of Travis's disappearance in all of North America since 1890. Source: (Associated Press; Rocky Mountain News; 03/14/91)
1993 (1 Non-injury Report)
06 September. Park officials closed Cuyamaca Rancho State Park for about 8 days in September (from the night of 9/6 probably until the morning of 9/15) after a cougar chased two horseback riders. Despite these measures, within 2 weeks, another cougar attacked a girl and her dog in the same park.(report HERE).
At sunset on Labor Day weekend, Konnie Brooking 35 of Julian and her father Dick King had been riding horseback for 5 and 1/2 hours near Stonewall Creek when they heard the bushes rustling, and a cougar bolted out to appear about 15 feet away. They stopped to admire the predator. Contrary to their disneyesque preconceptions, the cougar alarmed them by staring at them intently. King then yelled at it, but instead of fleeing, the cougar walked right toward them, "like it was going to hurt us," said King later. The pair said its hackles were up just like a house cat hunting a bird.
They urged their frightened horses into a dead run, and the cat was able to pursue them more than a half mile before it broke off. Brookings' husband rode by 5 minutes later and also saw the cat, probably now too exhausted to pursue him. He reported it was the size of a Great Dane, but longer. It appeared healthy and well fed.
Authorities called to the scene estimated the cat weighed about 90 pounds, and they began to turn thousands of visitors away from the park. Steel gates were installed at the campground entrances and hiking trails and roadside parking areas were cordoned off. Trackers and state wardens were unable to track this cougar. The park was reopened September 15.
Sources: (Mountain Lions and California State Parks; 01/19/94) ("Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Page 156)
1994 (2 Non-injury Reports, 1 Hunter Report)
January. Three bicyclists were menaced by a mountain lion at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The lion was killed on a ranch north of Descanso 11 days later. It was a young 65-pound male. Source: (San Diego Union-Tribune; 12/11/94, A-1)
9 May. A couple visiting from Yuma, Arizona, with a 3-year-old boy saw a lion approaching at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in California. State park officials said the lion rushed within five feet of the youngster on the Azalea Glen Trail at the Paso Picacho campground. The lion bared its teeth and crouched to spring, but the boy's father said he drove the animal away by waving a stick and shouting. Patrol Lt. Bob Turner, of Pine Valley, went to the area the next day. "The lion was lying right where the park people said they saw it," Turner said. "We walked up to it with five adults and two dogs, and it made no attempt to move. That lion had no fear of people whatsoever." He fired one shot and killed the animal from about 20 yards away. He found the 83-pound male had been feeding on a fresh deer kill nearby. Source: (Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune; 05/10/94, A-1)
October. Near dawn, Dan Parrish was out deer hunting with his father when he was confronted by a cougar in Oregon west of Detroit Lake about 45 miles east of Salem, Oregon. Walking down a logging road, he stopped on a knoll which allowed him to see left, forward, and right into a clear cut. He waited there until he heard some cracking and popping behind him, and he hoped a buck was approaching. Instead, to his horror, a cougar head appeared just 20 feet from him. He thought he should shoot, but found this female so beautiful, that he hesitated. Then he heard more cracking and popping sounds from the woods behind his adversary. A young male walked up to her side. Parrish knew his .264 Winchester Mag with bolt action would not easily get off two shots in the time 2 cats could make the 20 foot distance between them, so he fired a warning shot into the air. To his dismay, neither cat moved, so he picked up a rock and threw it at them. Luckily, the male took off into the woods.
Dan continued tossing rocks at the lion, but he was so nervous he couldn't hit her. He took a photo as proof he had seen the lion he didn't want to shoot. He calmed himself down, and finally hit her with a rock. This angered the lion, and she lunged at him. On her second bound, Parrish was able to shoot her in the chest. When she lifted her head, he shot her again in the neck and then fled to get his father. The two returned to examine the cat and then reported this to the Detroit Ranger Station. Officer Allison later told him that he had killed a 2-1/2 year old female weighing 85 pounds. Parish estimates she was over 6 feet long from nose to tail. Her paws were as big as the palm of his hand, and "her teeth were plenty long and sharp". Source: (Usenet groups archives, collected by Norman Yarvin; posted by Dan Parrish, University of Portland, 02/02/95)
1995 (2 Non-injury Reports)
January. A mountain lion, estimated to weigh at least 100 pounds, charged 17-year-old Michelle Rossmiller, as she bent down to get books out of her car parked in the driveway of her house. Her mother Lisa Rossmiller said: She saw it coming at her, thought fast and closed the door before it reached her. It was running straight at her. It's not afraid of us at all. It just snarls and hisses at us. Then when it goes away, it doesn't run. It just saunters off as if to say, "OK, not this time." The family first saw this lion in about December, and the encounters with it escalated. It became increasingly aggressive toward Lisa Rosmiller's children at their 4.5 acre home near Julian on Volcan Mountain in San Diego County, California, about 10 miles north of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Rossmiller finally called the state Department of Fish and Game when the lion charged her daughter. Source: (San Diego Union-Tribune; 01/28/95, B-3)
September. 48-year-old Moses Street was stalked and repeatedly attacked by a mountain lion from dusk until he was rescued by Rocky Mountain Park Rangers at about 2:00 a.m. He was jogging on a popular trail in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado, when, by chance or instinct, he glanced over his shoulder and saw a cougar directly behind him, on its hind legs, in the final stage of attack. Waving his arms and yelling, Street managed to get the cougar to back off. He fended off a second approach with a large tree branch. He climbed atop the ruins of an old cabin and warded the lion off a third time by again swinging the branch. Street then scurried up a tree and hunkered down for a frigid overnight, dressed only in a T-shirt and running shorts. In the dead of night, the mountain lion began climbing the tree."I could just hear him," Street said. "If you've ever heard a squirrel scramble up a tree, magnify that. He'd put a claw in and there would be a crunch."Swinging blindly with his branch, Street hit the lion, and it retreated. When he failed to return from his jog, Street's girlfriend called the Park Rangers who finally found and rescued him. Source: (The Washington Post; Tom Kenworthy; A Conflict Between Creatures 07/13/97; Page A01) (National Scenic Trails Internet Mailing Lists; 09/07/98) (Bike Colorado; Men's Journal; Anthony Brandt; 09/98)
1996 (2 Non-injury Reports)
16 January. A woman on horseback at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in California reported an aggressive lion. She likely saved herself by baring her teeth, growling and staring the lion down as it approached her. Two Game Wardens and an Animal Damage Control specialist went to that spot the next day, and the lion charged them, getting to within 15 feet before the 62-pound male was shot twice. "What bothered me about this one is the veterinarian said it was a cub," Game Warden Turner said. "It was a 1 1/2 - to 2-year-old that probably was just booted out by its mother and was trying to make it on its own." Turner said he'd never had a lion charge like this one. Source: (San Diego Union-Tribune; 02/11/96; C-14)
June (early in the month). Employee of Rocky Mountain National Park, Linda Austin, was charged by a cougar while she was jogging near the park's popular North Inlet Trail. She dodged off the trail, yelled, and waved a stick at it. The cat retreated, and she avoided injury. Sources: ("Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind" by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001, Page 137 & table page 215) (Statistics on mountain lion attacks in Colorado)
1997 (2 Non-injury Reports, 1 Pet/Livestock Fatality Report)
04 September. Four mountain lions that killed a foal and injured another horse on a ranch near Julian, California, were shot by a federal government tracker-hunter with Animal Damage Control. He placed a radio transmitter on the carcass the next day and waited to see if the lion would return to the kill. After dark, coyotes began to howl nearby and he feared they would interrupt the lion's return. When outdoor lights were turned on, he was very surprised to find four lions around the dead foal. The lions shot were a 70-pound female, along with what likely were her offspring -- two males and a female -- all ranging from 55 to 70 pounds. The young lions were estimated to be 14 to 15 months old. The incident wasn't reported to the media because it was done on a private ranch and officials always fear public reaction. Source: (Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune; 09/16/97)
20 October. 20-year-old mountain bike rider Todd Dunbar was attacked by a cougar at Walker Ranch Open Space near Flagstaff Mountain, in the hills west of Boulder, Colorado. The lion lunged and "took a swipe" at him, then stopped and snarled with its ears laid back. The biker used his bike to protect him until the lion backed off. However, as the man continued slowly down the trail, the lion followed him for a short distance until finally leaving. Source: (Wildlife Report; from the Colorado Division of Wildlife; 10/22/97)
28 December. A female cougar charged a group of women and children at Caspers Regional Park in Orange County, California, less than two weeks after the county had lifted restrictions on minors visiting the park. The cougar was later killed. (Orange County Record; 09/29/98)
31 October. Approximately 31-year-old Ross McDonell, his wife, and their two sons from Arlington, Washington, went for a walk with his mother near her home on China Gulch, just west of Ruch, Oregon. Navy gunner's mate, Ross, and his family were home for the holidays to visit his parents. The two boys were in walking in front with grandma, McDonell was next, and finally his wife Gail was a few steps behind as they hiked along an old logging road. When Ross turned to look for Gail behind him, he was astonished to catch sight of a cougar bounding straight for them. He locked eyes on it, and it stopped.
Ross drew the pistol he carries whenever he walks in the woods and told his wife to head downhill with the boys, Caleb and Shane, and his mother, Kathy McDonell. Then he fired a shot over the cougar's head, expecting the blast to scare it away. Instead, the cat followed his family downhill, skirting through the woods. Ross fired a second warning shot from his .45-caliber Glock, still expecting to scare the cat, but the second shot had no more effect than the first. Still three more warning shots had no deterrent effect.
Finally, the cat turned and charged McDonell who then shot it at close range in the neck, and the cat collapsed. Since it was nearing dark, the family continued home without confirming the cougar was dead. Ross found it the next day about 20 feet from where he shot it and delivered it to the Oregon Department of Fish on Wildlife. McDonell said he felt his military training helped him remain calm. He said he felt completely focused.
A necropsy showed the cat to be an apparently healthy male about 2 years old, weighing 102 pounds and measuring 6' 1" from nose to tail. Biologist John Thiebes said several accounts of similar cougar behavior had surfaced in Southern Oregon in the past year.
Sources: (mailtribune.com/archive; Aggressive Applegate cougar no match for Navy man protecting his family; by Bill Kettler; January, 1998) (Cougar Attacks - Encounters of the Worst Kind by Kathy Etling; The Lyons Press; Copyright 2001; Table page 218)
1998 (4 Non-injury Reports)
August. A woman encountered a cougar near Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California. She used pepper spray on an aggressive cougar and finally repelled it from attacking her and a female friend after a 15-minute ordeal. Source: (Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune; 10/10/98, B-1)
22 September. A Forest Service worker was shaken but unharmed by a cougar that followed and circled him in an area about 15 miles from where a cougar seriously injured 5-year-old Carmen Schrock the previous month. This incident in northern Pend Oreille County was the first time a cougar has so brazenly approached a forest worker, according to acting Sullivan Lake Ranger Amy Dillon. Source: (The Spokesman-Review, Article ID: 9809240007, 09/24/1998)
08 October. Early Thursday morning, a lion threatened Betty Wensloff of Banning, California, a member of the Yucaipa Valley Riding Club, as she went to check on her stock at the Los Vaqueros horse camp in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, California. A horse, whirling around in its camp stall in reaction to a lion on some hay bales, alerted Wensloff who then saw it. She yelled at it and grabbed a rake to defend herself. The lion left when other members of the group came to her aid.
Lt. Game Warden Bob Turner of the California Department of Fish and Game arrived mid-afternoon. Early in the evening an 80-pound male cougar was found sitting near the campground and Turner shot it from 10 yards away after he and fellow game warden Sean Pirtle noticed that the animal had walked over their tracks. Pirtle said he was followed down the trail later by an 79-pound female cougar, which was within 10 feet of him when he shot her. The rangers ordered the campers to leave during their efforts, but they made a case to stay overnight by telling rangers they'd been drinking. They were told after the lions were killed that they could stay, though park areas had been closed to others while the lion hunt was in progress. Source: (Ed Zieralski, San Diego Union-Tribune; 10/10/98, B-1)
09 October. Lt. Game Warden Bob Turner of the state Department of Fish and Game returned to the Los Vaqueros horse camp in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Friday afternoon and learned that a camper had kicked a lion out of the way earlier in the day for attempting to attack his pet dog. Turner hiked into the woods, spotted a 90-pound male sitting near the campground, and he shot it. Then suddenly the campers yelled that another one was running toward him. Turner said another 90-pound male stopped and glared at him, and he fired.
"I cannot believe this," Turner said. "I'm dumbfounded. People there were so glad I killed these lions so they could stay there, but believe me, this is not fun." Recently, more such encounters with multiple lions had been reported. Source: (Ed Zieralski; San Diego Union-Tribune; 10/10/98, B-1)
1999 (1 Pet Report, 1 Non-injury Report)
05 February. Gary Vinagre, who lives on Garnet Street in Ketchum, Idaho, reported to police that a mountain lion jumped over a fence, crossed his 20- to 25-yard-wide backyard and killed his dog, which was housed in a separated garage. After Vinagre put his dog's body in his vehicle, the lion then confronted him at his back door. Vinagre yelled and shot in the lion's direction to scare it away. The male lion was found dead in a neighbor's backyard the next day from a shotgun wound. It was estimated by Fish and Game officials to be a healthy (not rabid) four-year-old weighing 117 lbs. The next night, Vinagre said, new mountain lion tracks were left in his yard."We've lived in this house for 27 years and haven't ever seen signs of substantial mountain lion activity like this before. You expect something like that in the mountains, on a trail, not in your backyard."Source: (Local dog and cougar dead after weekend incident; GREG STAHL; from News Express, Ketchum???; 02/10/99; 02/16/99)
October. A 54-year-old male runner was chased by a mountain lion in Bear Canyon in Boulder County, Colorado. He was not injured. Source: (Statistics on mountain lion attacks in Colorado)
2000 (2 Pet Reports, 1 Report not confirmed to be a cougar, 3 Hunter Reports, 1 Non-injury Report)
01 January. Two cougars were shot in Republic, Washington, after eating pet cats. They were believed to be 9-month-old litter mates who lived on the edge of Republic. A mother here was helping her 7-year-old daughter put on boots to go play in the snow on New Year's Day when her husband came downstairs and announced he had just shot a cougar in their yard - a day after another one was shot in the same area."I was just scared to death when he told me that," the mother said. "I was just getting ready to shove my little girl out the door."Source: (Spokane.net 08/25/99, Article 1 of 16, Article ID: 0001060021; 01/06/2000)
03 May. "A small cougar" swiped its claw across the lower leg of Ken Jones while he was feeding the neighbor's cats near Siletz, Oregon. The cat retreated after Ken hit it in the head with a shovel three to four times. Although this doesn't sound like a typical cougar attack, and may have been a bobcat, wildlife field officer Jeffrey A. Brent says despite a week long investigation of the area to verify cougar tracks and/or catch a cougar with dogs, they were unable to verify any tracks in the immediate vicinity of the alleged attack as those of a cougar. He concluded that there was not sufficient evidence based on field observations to substantiate that a mountain lion had attacked the man. Neither could it be determined that it was not a cougar. Source: (Channel 6000 05/05/2000.) (e-mail from field supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program in Oregon, Jeffrey A. Brent 01/24/2000)
01 September. At about 8:30 p.m. Leonard Doty was out removing tall brush from his property with his dog, Prince, at his cabin near Sequim, Washington, when a cougar appeared and grabbed Prince on the run. He continued running with the small dog in his mouth, encountering Doty's wife and another small dog who gave chase. Trying to retreat from the charging dog, the lion again encountered Doty who was waving his machete, so he ran 40 feet up a tree with the dog where he killed Prince, apparently to keep him quiet. His wife brought Doty a gun which he fired at the lion. The wounded lion dropped the dog and leapt straight at Doty, first landing in power and phone lines and then landing about 18 inches from Doty. Doty fired at point blank range, but the lion still ran off. Finally, the Game Department arrived in the now darkness and helped track the lion which had died from his wounds about 150 feet away. Doty was not directly injured, but he suffered a heart attack during the encounter. Source: (Stacy Goodman; The Issaquah Press; 11/13/2000) (An e-mail from Leonard Doty)
Read Doty's word-for-word account HERE.
Warning: If you are sensitive to graphic details, this one page story "takes you there" and then some.
10 September. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, Will High, reported to me that a hunter encountered a lion as he was sneaking along near Bunch Grass Ridge in the McKenzie River Area east of Eugene, Oregon. He stopped to watch some deer in the distance when he sensed or heard something behind him. When the mountain lion charged, he tripped as he turned, fell, and shot the cougar while on the ground. It was a male cat weighing about 115 pounds. Examination of the path of the hunter's bullet didn't completely match the hunter's description of the event, but it is thought it was as accurate as the shaken man could describe. Source: (E-mail from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, Will High 01/24/2001)
15 September. A 6-year-old boy, Manuel Hernandez of Malott, Washington, had a close call with a cougar in an apple orchard. He may owe his life his dog, Amigo, a medium sized border collie. Manuel had gotten off a school bus and was walking home when he noticed Amigo barking at the base of a tree in an orchard. The first-grader walked past the tree, coming within 18 feet of the cougar, before he noticed it and started running. Luckily, the orchard's owner, Stanley Stout, drove in and saw Manuel running. He shot and killed the young, female cougar (which was not in good condition), still treed by Amigo. Tim Ford, enforcement sergeant for the State Department of Fish and Wildlife in Okanogan, thought the cougar likely would have attacked the boy had the dog not been present.
Stout agreed, "That dog saved his life, I'm sure of it. This cat situation is getting to be real serious. I've lived here all my life and I've never seen them like this." Source: (Associated Press story via Washington State Bowhunters; 09/21/2000)
mid September. At about 8:20 a.m., while elk hunting in the muzzle loading season, Dave Enyeart was sitting watching a saddle in Colorado near Rosemont Reservoir between Colorado Springs and Cripple Creek when a yearling deer came running up towards him. It stopped about 10 feet from Enyeart, looking back down the draw. He was hoping some elk had chased it up. Then the deer ran off, and he spotted the mountain lion coming towards him, looking for the deer. At first he thought it was great that he finally got to see a mountain lion. In a few moments he decided it was time to let the cat know he was there. He had always been told to look big and make noise, so he yelled out, "GET OUT OF HERE!" Showing no fear, all the lion did was look him the eye. Next Enyeart tried standing up, making himself look big and yelling more. Instead of retreating, now the lion came over a log and started for him. By this time Enyeart felt he had better shoot. He hit the female lion with one shot and called the Colorado Division of Wildlife to make a report.
Enyeart believes the mountain lion was mounted for educational use. It was approximately 2 years old and weighed a healthy 135 pounds. He was sad to have to shoot a lion, as he believes it is their world, but he had no choice. He was shocked by his experience. Now he goes into cougar land with new fear, believing he is the hunted, watching his back, and keeping his children with him at all times. Source: (E-mail from Dave Enyeart 03/21/2001)
08 November. A similar incident to the September 10 one above occurred near Mehama, Oregon, east of Salem when a hunter rounded a bush and surprised a mountain lion coming the other direction around the bush. At first the startled lion jumped away but then stopped and looked back. The hunter felt menaced and shot the lion, but it is less clear that this lion behaved aggressively. Source: (Interview with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, Will High 01/19/2001)
2001 (4 Non-injury Reports, 1 Pet Report, 1 false Report)
02 January. At about 4:30 a.m. near downtown Banff a cougar attacked a large dog (Husky) sleeping in her doghouse. Sarah escaped and was treated by a veterinarian with antibiotics and released. "...because cats' mouths and claws are full of bacteria, it's a huge problem with cat injuries, unique to their biology," explained the dog's owner John Peck. Source: (Scott Crowson and Grady Semmens; Calgary Herald, Encyclopedia, Herald files 01/03/2001) (February 5, 2001 Issue of Wildlife Encounters; A lesson unlearned; Candis McLean)
02 January. At about 7 a.m., a woman walking her dog along a wooded residential trail was attacked by a mountain lion in Banff, Alberta, Canada. She stumbled across a cougar and its fresh elk kill. Cheryl Hyde, 37, who works at Banff town hall, said it walked right up to her, and at first she thought it was a big dog in the pre-dawn darkness. When she realized it was a cougar, she started screaming and backing up, but backyard fences blocked her way. She slipped on the snow and fell, kicking at the cougar to stop it from pouncing.
Neighbor Gary Doyle heard Hyde's screams, flew out of bed, threw on his housecoat, fell down the stairs, knocked over a piano bench, put on his shoes, and ran out the door. Doyle opened up his back gate where the cougar had the woman and her schnauzer backed up against the fence, pulled the terrified duo into his yard, and slammed the gate shut.
Neighbors said they saw the cougar slink away, but reported seeing it in the area later that morning. Park wardens closed the trail and removed the 200-pound elk carcass so the cat would not return for its kill. Source: (Scott Crowson and Grady Semmens; Calgary Herald; Encyclopedia, Herald files: 01/03/2001)
31 January. Biology students, Jessie Dickson, 34 and Brianna Merrick, 28 were stalked by the mountain lion (pictured here) at noon while gathering information for their studies in Alum Rock Park, a city park at the border of San Jose, California. The women were hiking down a steep trail when Jessie Dickson saw some movement out of the corner of her eye. She looked at the source of the movement and saw a mountain lion just fifteen feet from them. Her camera was around her neck so she began to take pictures of it. (Click the thumbnail at the right to see the "Ghost Cat".) She believed the lion was going to run away, but when the lion began to move toward them, she was quite shocked. Both women yelled at it and tried to make themselves look bigger. This did not deter the lion which continued moving towards them. Jessie then began to snarl like a vicious dog. The lion looked right at her, and she tried to be even more convincing, making a mock lunge at the lion. When she did this, the lion jumped away into the bushes, but not far. The students couldn't see the lion but knew it was in the bushes. They were trapped because whichever direction on the trail they chose would take them by where they thought the lion was. After five minutes, they gathered their courage and began to make their way down the trail. At the same, time a rancher on horseback whose cattle had strayed into the park came up the trail accompainied by two dogs. They told him what happened and pointed into the bushes where they believed the lion to be. At that time the lion jumped from the bushes, leapt up the hill, and disappeared. Source: E-mails from Jessie Dickson; 04/18/2001 and 04/19/2001
21 February. A Campbell River man, Gene Sloan, and his wife, Penny, were attacked at night in their makeshift cabin by Rupert Arm, British Columbia, 20 kilometres (12 miles) southwest of Port Hardy. They were sitting by the fire, playing crib, when they heard something crashing into the plastic sheet wall of their pole-frame cabin. Penny took a glance and wrote it off as a deer. Sloan took a closer look and saw the face of a cougar looking in, and he was trying to get inside. Mindful of the recent Nostdal attack, in panic mode, he tried to prevent the cougar outside his cabin from tearing through the 6 millimetres of thin plastic sheet. First he booted him in the face and the cougar appeared stunned, but then started attacking again. He yelled to his wife to grab their axe. He hit the cougar repeatedly, cutting up the cougar pretty badly.
The wounded animal retreated into the bush, and Sloan called the conservation officer who hunted the emaciated cougar down. District conservation officer Ken Fujino said the area -- including Port Hardy, Port Alice, Port MacNeill and Zeballos -- has had a spike in cougar sightings of late. He blames a decline in the deer population. Source: (Canada NewsWire; Campbell River Couple Survives Cougar Attack)
05 April. This account is a false report by the Las Vegas Mercury (including photo shown) which I leave here for other researchers to be warned that some "modern" newspapers think it acceptable to excuse such a deception by calling it obvious satire. Such sloppy newspapers may be striving to be cute but this one is arrogantly unapologetic for their poor understanding of what constitutes true satire. At about 6:00 p.m. Dave Venicci, a Summerlin, Nevada, civil engineeer was attacked in his own back yard possibly by a rare albino mountain lion spotted previously by several other residents in the Las Vegas suburb. When he went over to get a piece of balsa wood he was working with that blew beneath his mesquite tree, he heard a deep growl, looked up--and that's the last thing he remembers. Hearing a commotion, his wife came out to find Venicci lying in the grass, covered in blood. She called paramedics. Later she declined to be quoted in the news.
Venicci's hospital report stated that he had extreme lacerations on both ears and severe punctures/lacerations on the lateral scalp area indicative of a "forceful animal bite." It appeared Venicci had his whole head bitten by the mountain lion, which was encamped in or near his mesquite tree.
A Metro spokesperson confirmed that 911 dispatchers received six calls between 6:03 and 6:09 p.m. from Venicci's neighbors who saw the animal after the probable lion attack. According to the calls, the mountain lion padded along the block wall separating back yards. Metro officers arrived on the scene but failed to intercept the animal. Source: (Las Vegas Mercury; Summerlin's newest neighbor: 'Thundercat'; Andrew Kiraly; 06/06/2001) Note: The Las Vegas Mercury has ceased publishing. The Mercury's owner, Stephens Media Group, has purchased Las Vegas CityLife and decided to make CityLife its flagship in the alternative newsweekly arena.
06 May. About 25 or 30 miles west of Hinton, Oklahoma, 46-year-old, 180 pound, 5' 10" Jeffrey Major was walking alone in the woods at about 3:30 p.m. when he sneezed and apparently awakened a large blue-eyed cougar laying on a ledge about 10 feet above him. It growled and hissed at him. Startled and scared, he was careful to make no sound. Then with great determination he broke his stare and kept walking. Apparently more startled itself than hungry, the cougar did not lunge. At the point he began walking, a most unexpected security patrol jeep came over the hill and he was taken safely from the area.
Source: 2 e-mails from Jeffrey Major; 11/28/2005
- See the helpful and captivating fleshed out details in this report in Major's own words HERE.
- See Major's unnerving 2nd 2005 encounter summarized BELOW.
2002 (2 Pet Reports including 1 human Non-injury)
14 September. Ali Forest's pet lamb was killed by a lion or lions in Healdsburg, California.My Name is Ali Forest. I am 14 years old and in 4-H. I had a lamb that I bottle fed since she was 2 days old. She followed me everywhere and was my best friend. She thought she was a dog. I went outside Saturday morning to go feed her, and I found her laying on the ground all torn up. Her intestines and guts were all over everything. I called a friend of mine who is a sheep owner, and he came out and looked at it. He said it was a mountain lion, so we went looking for footprints and found two sets, a mom and baby. They were never found.Fish and game was notified of the attack. Source: E-mail from Ali Forest, 09/14/2002
25 September. Augustus and Joanne Smithee were watching television around 9:45 p.m. in Glennville, California, when they heard their dog, Cassiar, barking and screaming. A 5-foot-long female mountain lion had grabbed the dog, so Smithee ran for his shotgun while his wife picked up a chunk of wood and flung it at the lion. The distracted lion let go of the dog, but then began to chase the fleeing dog and his wife. Smithee said he killed the cat with two birdshot shells--the only two he could find and load in the rush. He said "The lion was about two steps from being in the house." He figured the entire thing happened in less than a minute.
The Smithees took their dog to the veterinarian. The border collie came back with a lot of stitches and a $403 bill. "The state should pay the bill because the lion is the state's protected animal," Smithee said. "We're going to lose some kids here one of these days." Wildlife officials came by the next day to pick up the lion's carcass. Smithee said that was fine with him. "It's their lion." Source: The Bakersfield Californian; Man kills cougar ready to pounce; CHRISTINA VANCE, Californian staff writer; 09/26/2002
2003 (1 Non-injury Report)
12 November. At about 5:15 pm (dusk), 26-year-old John Kirk, a 6 foot 5 inch tall man weighing 190 pounds was returning from a fitness jog to his fathers's rural home near Witts Springs, Arkansas. He heard something large walking approximately 60 yards behind him. A deer had bounded across his path earlier, and he assumed that the noise was that deer. Increasing his pace, however, he managed to get behind a tree about 80 yards in front of the noise he heard. The cougar, which was now paralleling his path along a higher bluff, lept on a rock above the brush and poppped its head out to try to see John, who now could see that it was not a deer but a cougar.
He could hear the cat approching his hideout behind the tree, deliberately setting each foot down in silent, hunting mode. When the cat was 40 to 50 yards from him, he raised his arms over his head to make himself appear taller and more agressive, and he began yelling, clapping his hands and stomping his feet, but the cougar only laid its ears back. When it showed no fear of him, crouched down, and stared at him, as if preparing to attack, John decided to chance outrunning the cat for the approximately 150 feet (yards?) remaining to his father's house. He cleared the 3 foot fence around the yard and got to the side door of the house and was finally let in.
When John and his father Jerry analyzed it from a mark John had noted on his person for the shoulder height of the cat, it was 2 inches below the kitchen counter (of standard height). John thought it had a bigger (wider?) head than a normal for a cougar but a body definitely like a cougar's. It was unusual enough to wonder if it might be a hybird. John estimated it to weigh about 200 pounds and judged it to be healthy and in its prime.
The previous week, a neighbor and experienced woodsman had spotted a cougar track about 3 miles to the south that measured about 5 inches. Sources: (Phone call from Jerry Kirk) (e-mail from reporter Jane Williams) (e-mail from Ken Davison, Leslie, AR)
2005 (3 Non-injury Reports, 3 Hunter Reports)
April. In the dark at about 4:00 a.m., Jeffrey Major (see above for his first Oklahoma encounter) was driving to the gym. He was about 5+ miles east of El Reno, Oklahoma, when his car broke down. He had pushed it about a quarter of a mile in the dark and had gotten out again and checked his license tag when he called for service on his cell phone. Back inside the truck and waiting for assistance, he heard growling, and a cougar approached and circled him in it for about 10 to 20 minutes. Finally he saw the lights of the wrecker coming toward him, and the cougar departed. Again he was rescued by another in a vehicle.I was driving my pick-up to the gym at 4:00 am this past April. The clutch had been giving me trouble for a number of months and this morning I was about 10 miles east of my house in open prairie. When it gave out, I realized what was happening and tried to get back home. The engine kept running but the clutch was gone; I kept it running with the lights on, got out and pushed for about a quarter mile and realized this wouldn't work for the next 9 miles or so. I got back in, called my roadside assistance and answered their questions, getting out and checking my license number in the process. They said someone would be out to get me in about 30 minutes and to "stay with my vehicle." No problem there. It was pitch-black out and the wind suddenly turned out of the north. I went ahead and shut the engine off and the lights and waited. Out of the dark about 50' behind me I heard this deep, warbling growl that escalated into a throaty yowling and back down deep again. It was too high off the ground for a bobcat. In addition, the sound was too loud and the length of the sound proved it was being made by a bigger set of lungs. This conclusion was reinforced by a barely distinguishable (unmistakable) outline of the big cat and a pair of eyes glaring out of the dark about the height the first cougar had been. Again, I thought my heart would stop. I hunkered down into the seat so it couldn't see me as I listened to it circling the pickup, getting closer and louder over the next 15-20 minutes. I could see the lights of the wrecker about a quarter of a mile away and I guess the cougar did, too; it stopped howling at me and took off. I was never so glad to see another human being in my life. The scariest part of this whole episode was that I had been out of the pickup in the dark for a long time pushing my pickup and then getting out to check my license plate once I had stopped and had called roadside assistance.
Source: 2 e-mails from Jeffrey Major; 11/28/2005
- See more detail regarding Jeffrey Major's 2nd incident HERE.
- See Jeffrey Major's first Oklahoma cougar encounter ABOVE.
23 June. Near dusk after a stormy evening (about 9:00 pm), a couple from New York City was retiring to their tent at the Cathedral Valley Campground, a remote campground in the northern portion of Capitol Reef National Park, near Loa, Utah. They were the only campers present in the campground at the time. Sally Gall had just entered their tent, and suggested to Jack Stephens, who had been quietly reading for over an hour, that he take one last look at the twilight sky. He sat up to take a look, and upon doing so, observed a mountain lion at a distance of roughly five feet, front leg in mid-air, as if frozen in mid-stride, heading directly toward the entrance to the tent. Very calmly he told Sally there was a mountain lion looking into their tent. Not knowing if he might be kidding, Sally sat up, looked out, and then laid back down and pulled the sleeping bag over her head and "went stiff as a board with fear."
As Stephens and the lion stared at one another, Jack then did what he had read one is supposed to do: He tried yelling, waving his arms and, to the extent possible being constrained in a small tent, attempted to appear large. The lion did not respond in any fashion. It just stood there staring, paw still in the air, like it was deciding what to do. That's when Stephens felt he had to do something more drastic.
With no knife to cut through the tough tent material, and no camera or flashlight at hand to flash at it, he had no choice but to crawl over Sally, unzip the tent and try to stand up. After unzipping the tent, and as he was exiting, Stephens noticed that Gall's hiking shoes were placed at the tent's entrance, and so he grabbed one and flung it at the cat. The shoe struck the lion (beaned it right in the forehead, as Stephens phrased it), and bounced upward, at which point the lion rose on its hind legs, grabbed the shoe with both forepaws, pulled it into its mouth, and turned around and bounded away, shoe in mouth.
Adrenaline charged, the couple armed themselves with an axe and crowbar and turned on every light they had--lantern, headlights, flashlights--and built a fire in the fire pit. They decided that driving out on the storm ravaged 4-wheel road was out of the question at night. They finally went back to bed hours later with the lantern blazing right outside the tent. The following morning, the couple searched for the missing shoe. Though they were able to follow the lion's tracks for some distance, they were not able to locate the footwear.
Stephens reported the cougar as appearing young, healthy, and uninjured. He guessed it weighed about 80 to 100 pounds. He felt it was male, though he wasn't certain of its gender. Regarding its youth, he noted that its paws seemed as if the animal could grow into them a bit, like a young dog's.
A lost-and-found report was submitted, and the couple departed the park en-route to Moab, Utah, to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks--and to purchase a new pair of shoes.
Source: (e-mails from Jack Stephens to my co-author Tom Chester 06/27/2005, and to me 06/27/2005, 06/30/2005, 07/09/2005) NOTE: This report is modified from a document prepared by Capitol Reef National Park Biologist Dave Worthington. To see a fleshed out account of this incident and some comments about it as originally presented by Jack Stephens, himself Click Here.
22 July. Before sundown, Ranger Jeff Thompson in the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness within the Leadville, Colorado, Ranger District, was stalked by 4 cougars on Rich Creek Trail, with one of them charging him and grabbing his sleeping bag that he used to make himself look larger.
He had hung his food in a tree at least 200 feet away from his tent after dinner at about 5:45 p.m. and gone into his tent early because the bugs were so thick. He was reading a book when he heard some noises that were not loud enough to alarm him. But he stopped reading 3 or 4 times and would listen for about 5 seconds. Finally he heard a noise that made him scramble for his tent zipper and look out. He saw a cougar approximately 10 feet in front of him. Realizing laying down in a tent was not a good situation, he calmly and slowly stood up. He tried to make no sudden movements, and he did not look it in the eyes.
Once he stood up, he saw 3 more mountain lions, 1 to his left and 2 to his right behind a couple of trees about 30 feet away. He knew he should try to look big, so he reached down and grabbed his sleeping bag and raised it into the air. His shovel was leaning on a fallen tree about 5 feet behind him, so he also backed up to grab that. He made noise banging the shovel on a rock, and 2 of the lions slowly walked away. Another one ran towards him. The lion that ran at him grabbed his sleeping bag out of his hand, damaging the bag. He took the shovel and struck the lion on the back. The lion then scurried away to meet the other lions which were heading for some thicker trees about 100 feet away.
After they went in to the trees, he began to pack up. He decided to leave some gear and especially to leave his food hanging in the distant tree in order to move quickly and get out of there. As he started down to the trail, 3 of the lions came bounding down the hill to follow him. He made a lot of noise to try to scare them away, but it didn't seem to bother them. Thompson then decided to call for his partner on the radio to make him aware. He was camped in the Mount Massive Wilderness and had already turned his radio off for the evening. Thompson then called for anyone out there, and John Markalunas came back and offered any support he could, including a helicopter.
After about 20 minutes of being followed, he crossed a creek and waited to see if they would cross with him. When he didn't see them for a couple minutes, nervous because he was running out of light, he started to run for the trail head. Once he started to run, he made significant distance and got back to the truck just as the light was fading away. He called Pueblo, Colorado, dispatch from the truck, told them he was safe, and proceeded to the office. Sources: e-mails from Linda Dickman; 08/14/2005 and from Rick Casey; 09/14/2005 that recount this story, allegedly written up by Jeff Thompson, himself.) (Phone call from Jeff Thompson; 11/19/2005)
02 August. 24-year-old Jeremy Silva (6 foot 1 inches tall - 175 pounds) and his 18-year-old brother Andrew Silva (5 foot 11 inches tall - 195 pounds) had decided to return before dark from an exploratory hunting trip when they encountered a cougar in western Merced County of California. Jeremy had hunted since he was 13-years-old, but his brother did not hunt. He had hunted many times alone because of his weird work schedule, but he tried not to, which is why he had convinced Andrew to come out with him. This was the first time he was accompanied by his brother, and he felt it turned out to be a perfect time, as he believed that this lion would have attacked him if he was alone.
The stalking began at 7 p.m. and didn't end until close to 9 p.m.. Jeremy guessed it was an adult male because of its large, if slightly scrawny appearing frame. He estimated it weighed approximately 100 pounds. It had a beautiful reddish brown coat with a black tip on its tail. What he did not understand is why it was stalking he and his brother when there were two deer a ridge over, one of those deer being a young fawn.In Western Merced County of California my brother and I were stalked by a mountain lion for close to 2 hours. We were in there looking for deer for the upcoming rifle season. I was armed with a bow and arrow in case we saw a wild pig.Source: e-mails from Jeremy Silva; 08/10/2005 and 08/11/2005
The mountain lion encounter never crossed my mind because they always run away, right? Well, my brother was laying down sleeping a couple hundred yard from where I was glassing an area [scanning with binoculars] for deer. I returned to awaken him and tell him there were two deer on the hill above him. We decided to walk out because the sun was going down, and we were going to be walking in the dark.
As soon as we started up the hill above where he lay, I noticed a cats head. I believed it to be a bobcat, so I told him to get out the video camera. Right after he got it out of his backpack, I identified the cat to be a mountain lion. It stood up and walked up the hill, staying very low to the ground in the dry grass. I saw its large long body and enormous tail and knew it was, indeed, an adult mountain lion.
He lay in the grass with only the top of his head showing again, and I then knew he was not afraid of us. We needed to be careful. I gave my brother my hunting knife before the trip and told him to stop filming and be ready to fight off this cat. After we made some noise, the lion slowly disappeared over the hill. My brother had to go in the lion's direction to head out. We went side hill to the north and stayed on alert mode.
To make a long story short, the cat appeared 5 different times and jumped across the dozer line road we were walking the last time in the dark. I was yelling and making noise the whole way out, snarling and growling and constantly scanning with my flashlight. I think we were lucky to get out of there without any physical damage. I have always been fond and interested in seeing a mountain lion because the are so hard to see in the wild. I have changed my mind and hope never to see one. There were two deer within 500 yards of him, and he choose us as his prey. Luckily we were heads up and did enough to keep this lion from attacking.
I thank god that my brother came with me because I have no doubt that this lion would have attacked if I was alone. I wonder if I would have killed the lion would fish and game believe that it chased me for 2 to 3 miles. It was a serious threat to me and my brother. If I had an opportunity to kill this lion I would have. I am willing to risk the fine or jail time to come home in one piece. Mountain Lions and Cougars are not animals that you can count on running away from humans.
16 September. 55-year-old Dave Willims, 6'1", 210 pounds was hunting a mule deer buck near Sedalia, Colorado, while a mountain lion was hunting him. Dave told me he believed he did nothing to precipitate this cat's actions and he said he has often wondered what may have happened had he not made that eventful 'back-wards glance' at the time he did. See his own story below.On Friday, September 16th, 2005, sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. I was hunting alone on private property somewhere in the mountains around Sedalia, Colorado. I was sitting with my back against an aspen tree/fern grove, with the dark timber behind that, going up the mountain. I was watching the open meadow in front of me, anticipating the arrival of a buck mule deer.Dave told me that Colorado Wildlife Officer who did the investigation was Casey Westbrook. He observed that Casey was a young man who offered a very professional, understanding appearance and in no way made him feel like a "defendant" or wrong-doer. Had this same incident occured to him while deer hunting in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, he was certain that the Pennsylvania Game Commission would not be so understanding.
I would occasionally look over my shoulder into the aspens-just to make sure nothing was trying to sneak through behind me. During one of these backward glances I found myself looking directly into the face of a mountain lion, at a distance of ten to twelve feet! All I could see of the cat was its head, above the fern growth. At first I could not believe what I was seeing, so I turned a little further to get a better look. Sure enough, it was a mountain lion, looking right back at me.
As I started to shift around for better positioning, the cat's ears went back and it showed its teeth with a loud hissing snarl, then dropped its head down and started advancing toward me. I had my muzzleloading rifle on my lap and swung it to my right, up over my right shoulder, while rolling onto my right side, with the intention of getting onto my stomach and bringing the rifle up to my shoulder.
I didn't quite make it to my stomach. As I was in the action of rolling to my right, I was keeping my eye to my rear, hoping the cat had changed its mind and had left the area. All of a sudden the cats head and chest "popped" out of the ferns, close enough that I thought I could have reached out and touched it! I wasn't quite onto my stomach, but I had the rifle extended out to my rear, facing the ferns, safety off and my finger on the trigger. When the cat's head and chest appeared, all I could do was pull the trigger and hope the gun went off (an earlier shot at a buck mule deer was spoiled due to a misfire).
I heard the rifle roar and immediately got to my feet and ran out into the meadow, putting some distance between myself and the mountain lion. I went out to the center of the meadow to reload and fire a second signal shot to my friend who was back at our base camp. While all of this action, and the description of it make it seem like all of my actions were thought out and decisions made before acting, I can assure you that was certainly not the case! After seeing the lion's head sticking up above the ferns, everything after that just seemed to "happen." Nothing was planned, then acted on. It was just instinct and reaction, with me feeling no fear, or asking myself, "what should I do now?" Everything just happened.
After firing the signal shot to my friend; however, what had just occurred hit me like a ton of bricks. I started shaking and was really "rattled." After making sure I had another fresh load in the rifle, I went back to the tree I was leaning against, to see the cat lying in the ferns. After my friend arrived and looked at the lion to ensure it was dead, we went back to the camp to get cameras and call the local Colorado Division of Wildlife Officer, who turned out to be a very young, understanding individual. He expressed concern over the actions of the lion and is sending the brain in for testing and evaluation, hoping to see why this cat advanced, after having obviously identified me as a human.
The lion turned out to be a very healthy, beautiful two to two-and-half year old male, in its prime, with a beautiful coat. Later examination showed that the cats stomach was absolutely empty; something the Wildlife Officer had never before seen, and the best guess is that the lion was "between kills" and may have mistaken me as his next meal, and by the time he was close enough to realize his mistake, we were both "into" one another's protective space, and it is doubtful that the lion would have retreated.
From where the cat dropped, to the end of the barrel of my rifle when I fired, was exactly one gun length-a distance of about four feet !!! Don't let the Pennsylvania Game Commission fool you, when you've seen a mountain lion, you cannot have a case of "mistaken identity!!
Sources: (email from Dave Williams; 12/04/2005) (Star-Gazette.com; Star-Gazette Wellsboro Bureau; Pa. hunter kills cougar as it charges; Hungry mountain lion shot 4 feet from Tioga County man"); By GEORGE OSGOOD, email@example.com; 09/28/2005)
21 October. While elk hunting in the woods of central Idaho about one hour before sunrise, Dale Whitmore had an encounter with a cougar. Whitmore who is 6' 1" and weighs 230 pounds was wearing full camouflage with scent free lining and was alone at the time. The location was Payette National Forest on Bush Mountain, ten miles from New Meadows, Idaho. This is part of the little Salmon River drainage.
With the help of a nearly full moon, he walked into a heard of elk that were both above and below the old logging road he was walking on. He quietly followed them until it got light, having determined the herd bull was just above him and the cows were below him, all in pretty dense brush. While hugging the upper side of the road to keep out of sight, Whitmore reported feeling something like a sixth sense that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, and he had a definite feeling of something wrong. Whitmore stopped and looked around but didn't see anything. Then he noticed a old wind fall tree that extended out over his head. As his eyes followed it back over his head, about eight feet up, he saw a cougar. When he made eye contact and reflexively stepped back, the animal went from lying down, or a very low crouch, to four feet together, back arched, teeth bared, and muscles tensed--in just a fraction of a second. Later he remembered a subconscious thought that the canine teeth looked more like elephant tusks.
As he stepped back he brought his rifle up more as a barrier between them than as a weapon. The cougar was so close that Whitmore said he remembered the bright yellow eyes just looking at him and then changing to something that was hard to describe, maybe a hateful glare. It was definitely a momentary shock to him. When the cougar jumped, however, he fired from about chest height. It seemed like slow motion, and Whitmore could remember all of the details except pulling the trigger. This came as a surprise, which he doesn't think was a conscious act. The round went through his leg just above his pad, entered his chest and exited behind his far leg. The shot spun him around in mid air, and he hit the ground running. Whitmore found him about thirty yards into the brush dead. Upon later examination, he discovered the round penetrated the heart.
Whitmore said it was not the first cougar that he'd seen, but it was the first really close encounter, with other sightings having been from a distance or when one crossed a road in front of his vehicle. He thinks it was significant that he was in the immediate proximity of an elk herd, and the animal was attempting/primed to feed.I went back to the site of the confrontation just to settle in my own mind about what his intentions were and...Until this event, Whitmore had never believed cougars were a true threat to humans. He has since modified his opinion. Further concerning him was the fact that when he told the Idaho Fish and Game the details of what happened, he was not asked to make any type of report or to give the details of the incident for any type of documentation. His main concern is one shared by many others having encounters--that the concept most people have of cougars being non threatening predators is perpetuated by officials' omissions/denials. His now informed-by-experience opinion is that the threat can be very real, and people who enjoy the outdoors need to know that they are not just amazing, "I saw one" animals.
In summary, I don't know if the cougar would have shown the aggression if the circumstances were different, not in a herd of elk, but in this instance he definitely transferred his intent to kill an elk to me. It is very difficult to describe what it was like to be that close, it was unimaginable that a cougar would let a human get that near without fleeing. I was either prey or mistaken for prey and became prey.
- He was hunting the elk
- He found a perfect ambush site
- He was poised and primed to make a kill
- I walked into his ambush as scent free as I could get. I think this possibly caused some confusion on his part, but the eye contact definitely triggered the aggression.
As to the animal's intent, if I had not stopped directly under him, he would have had a clear shot at my back, I don't even want to speculate on what the outcome might have been. When I made eye contact with the cougar, he went from waiting to very aggressive. I believe if I had not been so close to directly under him, he would have leapt at that point. When I instinctively stepped back, that was a mistake on my part because he now had room to jump.
The cougar was an apparently mature adult male weighing about 170 pounds and measuring seven and one half feet from nose to tail. The Idaho Fish and Game personnel would not comment on the age. They told Whitmore to call back in a year for results of age testing a molar from the cougar. The only comment Idaho Fish and Game personnel made was that it had exceptionally large canines (which Whitmore already knew!). The cougar was in excellent health and exhibited a lot of body fat. It did have two recent gouges in its hide that appeared to have been made by an antler.
Source: e-mails from Dale Whitmore 10/22/2005, 10/24/2005, 10/28/2005, and 10/29/2005
2006 (2 Non-injury Reports)
27 January. At 7:45 a.m., 47-year-old 6'2", 250 pounds William Egger, was reading maps inside his tent in his sleeping bag. He was in Big Bend National Park, Texas, at Boot Canyon #1 which is a fairly remote campsite at about 6800' in the Chisos Mountains about 4.5 miles from the Chisos Basin/Chisos Mountain headquarters. Looking outside, he was surprised to observe a cougar walking by, 24 feet from him. He loudly yelled "get out of here mountain lion" several times, and the cougar departed from his view.
Egger kept a journal in which he wrote that at first the cougar seemed as surprised as Egger. Immediately --within 2 seconds of Egger yelling-- he turned and ran back uphill in the direction he came from for about 15 feet, and then began running away from him, down into the small canyon that Egger tent faced. He watched the cat travel from within his tent area, running downhill, into the canyon out of sight, into the trees and brush.
Egger got dressed, then looked outside the tent to make sure the cat was gone and saw no sight of the cat. He got out of the tent at about 7:52, fully dressed in his boots, ready to hike, with camera in hand. He walked up the trail and took some photos and then thought there might be paw prints near his tent to photograph.
Indeed, he found one in the soft dirt where he expected, near a tree. Egger snapped it, but the photo turned out blurry. As he was preparing another shot of the rock faces of Emory Peak that he saw from there, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye. It was the cougar crouched 20-30 feet from away, staring intently at him, tail raised in the air. It had sneaked back up from the canyon, and was now clearly stalking Egger.
Again Egger started shouting, including "words filled with hate, and anger, and threats, peppered with profanity, and descriptions of what I would do to him with my two trekking poles, and my knife, if he did not leave me alone." He blew his emergency whistle with a vengeance, for lengthy periods of time, and then began shouting again and then blowing the whistle again, adrenaline coursing through his veins.
As before, when Egger began shouting, the cat ran back into the canyon, and probably kept running. He blended in so well, Egger was not certain. He never saw the cat again after 8:08, when it was running into the small canyon.
Egger had been moments from attack and probably only the chance of turning in the cougar's direction to make a good photograph had saved him from being pounced and injurred significantly or killed. In his recent email, Egger says, "Of all of the adverse things that have happened to me in 48 years, that encounter with the lion has been the hardest to shake."
Egger, raised on a ranch and familiar with animal sizes and weights, estimated the cougar was young, healthy and about 120 pounds.
Sources: (email from William Egger 01/27/2007) (Daniel J. Leavitt, Big Bend National Park Ranger; 01/30/2006) (National Park Service / U.S. Department of the Interior; Big Bend National Park Bear & Mountain Lion Sightings; Big Bend National Park, TX; January 2006)
17 April. 6-year-old Bryce Forbes and his 5-year-old brother Tucker had been playing in their fenced yard on the outskirts of Gold River, on Vancouver Island. The Forbes family had just returned from a fishing trip in Nootka Sound to their home on the fringes of Gold River. After putting the boat away, Bryce's father Cameron and mother Catherine were in the office above their shop. When Bryce headed indoors, he was surprised to encounter a cougar in the family garage when he stepped inside it. It was eying him and clawing at the floor. Bryce admitted: "I was scared. I thought he was going to eat me."
Rather than take the three steps and run into the house, he turned and ran another 40 to 50 feet past the cat to get his little brother. Perhaps this unexpected direction confused the cougar, as it did not give chase. Bryce grabbed Tucker and then scrambled up the garage's outer stairs and locked the door to the garage's upper room. Once he and Tucker were secure behind the door, he called his parents using an extension telephone.
The dad who later admitted that what Bryce did for Tucker would surprise no one because "Bryce is the ultimate big brother" was, never-the-less, dubious of his son's story. But the cougar which had been spooked outside the garage was still inside the family's fence. So the RCMP was called. The RCMP found the cougar and shot it. It was an underweight male, approximately 18 months old.
Speculating about why the cougar did not attack, Bryce's dad remarked, "Why that cat never tried anything, I don't know." His mom siad "Something went our way, and we got lucky. We're proud of him that he didn't forget about his little brother."
Sources: (Ministry of Environment; Boy Recognized for Quick Thinking in Cougar Incident; Media Room for 05/23/2006 event) (Times Colonist; Big brother to the rescue; Bill Cleverley; 05/24/2006) (GoodNewsNetwork.org; Boy, Six, Saves Kid Brother from Cougar; geri, 05/26/2006)
2007 (1 Unconfirmed-as-by-a-cougar Report, 1 Pet attack Report)
26 August. 17-year-old Wabaunsee High School senior Wayne Flerlage was knocked down by what even officials admit was a large cat east of Alma, Kansas. The 160 pound, 5' 11" youngster was on a midnight run (beginning late August 25) on Clapboard Ravine Road which goes to the peak of Clapboard Hill, nearly 3 miles from his home in downtown Alma. This route is a part of his routine training for cross country runs which training also includes regular weight lifting.
For this summer run he was clad only in running shorts and shoes, and he had on a headset playing his favorite tunes. He stopped briefly to catch his breath at the top of the hill. When he started back down the hill, at about 12:30 a.m., he had run about 100 yards when something jumped on his back. The force knocked him down and he rolled approximately 10 feet. He got to his feet via what he compares to a football stance. He looked up and said he was face-to-face with a mountain lion. From his crouched position, he immediately hit it across the face with a cross-arm block. When he fully regained his footing, he kicked it under its chin, and the cougar just walked away according to Flerlage. He estimated the entire encounter lasted 5 to 7 seconds.
Flerlage said the cat didn't growl or snarl. He said the cat looked surprised before it walked away. Investigating officer Rick Campbell, District Supervisor of Kansas Wildlife and Parks, speculated that the cat probably didn't expect to have an encounter with a human. Perhaps more objectively, it didn't expect such firm and sudden aggression from intended prey.
When asked if he feared for his life during the attack, he said, "No."Actually, it made me mad. I guess I was glad he picked me because of my knowledge of the outdoors. I guess I knew how to react.He admitted that as he continued his return to home, the fear factor started to kick in.I didn't have my earphones anymore, and as I ran back I could hear every little sound. Every twig that broke.Flerlage's mother Diane, who works at Wabaunsee High School, told KAKE's sister TV station WIBW that Wayne is an avid runner. She told officer Campbell that she felt her son's encounter was ironic. She said he had an interest in cougars and had written a thesis during his freshman year focusing on mountain lions attacking humans. Wayne, himself, credited his knowledge regarding the subject with perhaps saving him from more severe injuries. Diane reminded officer Campbell that Wayne had discovered scat north of McFarland, Kansas, at an earlier date and had turned it into the officer for scientific analysis to determine whether or not it was from a mountain lion. Officer Campbell said, "It definitely was from a cat," but he would not elaborate further. "Wildlife and Parks is pretty cautious about admitting there are any mountain lions around."
After witnessing Wayne's wounds, however, even Rick Campbell acknowledged, "There's no doubt it was a cat. Bobcat or cougar, he was taken down by a cat." Wayne had four visible scratch marks on his right forearm. These forearm scratches were about one-inch apart. Under his shirt were four more scratch marks on his shoulder and four across his torso. The four scratches on Flerlage's torso measured 5 inches wide. Each of these scratches were uniform and one-and-a-half inches apart. The difference in width of forearm and other scratches may have been the result of front claw versus back claw size or a more open claw versus a more closed claw attack. All of the wounds were straight and evenly distributed. None of the injuries were severe. (See a photo of confirmed cougar scratches for comparison here.)
As he continued with his investigation, Campbell held out a tape measure and asked Flerlage about how long the animal was. The youth said that, to the best of his knowledge, he would estimate it to be approximately four feet long, not counting the tail. He added that the tail was two to three feet long. Though he had no flashlight, there was nearly a full moon Friday night and early Saturday morning.I could clearly see his ears and his nose. It was difficult to say exactly what color he was. It was a solid color, probably tan.Though numerous credible Kansas citizens have reported mountain lion sightings in diverse Kansas locations, without something like a photo or carcass to force the issue, Kansas officials still refuse to substantiate that any mountain lions actually exist in Kansas currently--even in the face of this very probable Kansas cougar attack on a human and despite the danger such (stubborn?) denial poses to the public. Whether from an escaped captive or a cougar migrating from a neighboring state with confirmed reproducing wild cougars (Colorado), the danger to humans is similar, though Wildlife agencies apparently have less responsibility for the former. The responsibility issue may account for the consistent official denials in Kansas and many other states. Such denials may be partially responsible for a gruesome death in Arkansas.
Sources: (SmallTownPapers News Service; Area Youth Attacked by Mountain Lion; by Ervan Stuewe for the Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise; 09/07/2007) (CJOnline: The Topeka Capital-Journal; Youth reports cougar attack; 08/28/2007) (KSTN TV 27; Teen Attacked by Large Cat; by Laine Baker; 07/27/2007) (KAKE TV 10; Teen Claims Mountain Lion Attack in NE Kansas; 08/28/2007)
27 August. A cougar plucked 10 pound Roman from his back yard after a child left the back door open on Monday, letting the small dog get out. The incident was in the Eagle Terrace area of Canmore, in Alberta, Canada. Lucille noticed the open door and then looked out and saw the cougar running up a steep cliff with Roman barking and flopping back and forth in its mouth.
Lucille and Simon Cuell hold the Yorkshire Terrier - Bichon Frise - Shih Tzu cross which Lucille bravely rescued from a cougar attack.Aaron Paton/Canmore LeaderIt is amazing what adrenaline does, because I ran right up the hill. I didn't even think it was that steep.When she caught up to the cougar and Roman, she picked up a rock and threw it at the cat. She doesn't think she hit the cougar, but it dropped Roman who fled back into the house. She doesn't recall even looking back to see where the cougar went as she rushed back to tend the family's wounded dog.
The cougar returned about 20 minutes after the attack and started sniffing at a trail of blood left by the injured dog that led to the Cuells' back door. It came back again after midnight and scratched and pressed against the glass door of the home for about 15 minutes. Only a thin piece of glass was between the Cuells and the cougar. At one point the hungry cat was just a foot away from Tom Cuell. Another Eagle Terrace resident Fiona Middleton suspects the same cougar killed her house cat a few days later. It has been missing since Saturday, September 1.
Veterinarian Dave Brace treated Roman at Bow River Veterinary Centre. Brace kept Roman for two days to monitor the infection and to make sure the fluid from the wounds drained adequately. It was the following Monday before Roman felt tempted by a dog treat. It was the first time since the attack that he wanted to eat. His puncture wounds were healing, and the family finally felt he was going to pull through.
Fish and Wildlife officer Jason Cadzow said evidence showed a 50-60 pound young cougar snatched up the dog. Over a week later, officers were reported still to have been trying to track down the cougar, but they had not been able to find it.
Lucille felt Roman was lucky to be alive after his ordeal. She said it was a huge wake-up call for the family, who have lived in the house for nine years. Blaming only herself and other humans, she said that if you have little animals around you're going to attract cougars. In addition, now her kids won't be playing outside alone and the dog will have to stay inside. Her kids will have to deadbolt the door because she feels 100 per cent responsible for that cougar being at the family home. She added that the dog shouldn't have been outside.
Source: Canmore Leader; Dog reunited with family after attack; by Aaron Paton, Canmore Leader Staff; 06/05/2007)
2008 (1 Unconfirmed-as-by-a-cougar Report, 2 Non-injury Reports)
01 March. 33-year old Ryan Hughes of Rapid City said he was ice fishing alone at Sheridan Lake in Chipper Bay near the south boat ramp on the lake which is located on Spring Creek in Pennington County, north of Hill City, South Dakota. At about 2:30 p.m. he walked over to the shoreline to relieve himself. Hughes said he turned and saw a mountain lion near a patch of cattails a few feet away, with what appeared to be a red fox in its mouth. The cat dropped the fox and attacked Hughes immediately, he said. "It just jumped, all four feet off the ground. I got one hand up on its face and one kind of on the side of its body. Basically, I stuck my hands up and as I went down, flailed and kicked."
In his initial report to GF&P investigators, Hughes estimated that he fought with the lion for five minutes before it gave up and walked away, stopping to twitch its tail as it left. The following Friday, he reconsidered: "It seemed like five minutes. In reality, it could have been more like five seconds." He estimated the lion's size to be 80 to 90 pounds.
After the attack, he walked back to his ATV out on the ice and drove back to his pickup at the boat ramp, loaded the ATV on it, and drove to the emergency room at Rapid City Regional Hospital. There, he received stitches in his arm, hand and jaw, and also received the first inoculation against rabies. His stitches were removed the following Friday. As part of his medical routine, Hughes had a blood alcohol test at the hospital, which he said confirmed that he was not impaired, though he said he did drink four beers before the attack.
Hughes said he can understand why some people might be skeptical about the attack, since it is so unusual. He agreed that it is puzzling that investigators didn't find blood at the site or fur from the lion or fox. And he wonders why a pack of trained Game Fish & Park lion hounds didn't come up with the lion or the trail in a search two hours after the attack and another the next morning. Part of the problem there, Hughes said, was that the dogs started their first search without his guidance, and apparently focused on an area about a quarter of a mile from the attack site. The next day, when Hughes took investigators and the hounds to the exact spot, high winds complicated scent conditions, he said. GF&P Regional Supervisor Mike Kintigh said that even though the first search was off the mark, the dogs worked the entire ridgeline above the bay where the attack occurred. "We were plenty close to have picked up a lion within the area," he alleged, "and although windy, conditions the following day were still suitable for tracking. The weather wasn't bad for dogs. It was cool, no overnight frost, no new rain or snow. Wind will cause the dogs to track off to the side, but they'll still track."
GF&P officers did take some hairs from Hughes' fleece and claimed they are going to test them to determine whether they are from a lion. As is too often typical, there is no indication that this possibly expensive testing has been done. GF&P assistant wildlife division director George Vandel of Pierre said he didn't know when the agency would make a final determination on the reported attack. "We're doing our work to try to investigate and sort the facts out. We're trying to take a look at everything," Vandel said.
Similarly unconfirmed by the same agency, a 16-year-old boy reported a mountain lion attacked him near Ramona in eastern South Dakota two years ago. GF&P officials ended up calling the Ramona incident a "near miss," at best. The boy, armed with a rifle, said he ran into the lion after he followed it into a farm shelterbelt. The boy said he fell down and accidentally discharged his rifle after the cat swiped at him with a paw and tore his shirt. State trapper Jack Alexander and the GF&P dog team went to Ramona to search for the lion the next day. They located two coyotes and a house cat but no mountain lion.
Meanwhile, Ryan Hughes was waiting for his next rabies shot. He said he wasn't likely to go ice fishing at Sheridan Lake again this year. He said that he didn't have any desire to go back there.
Sources: Rapid City Journal; Man defends lion attack story: State needs to 'sort the facts out'; 03/07/2008 / GF&P says it believes man who reported lion attack: Ryan Hughes was fishing at Sheridan Lake when he was reportedly attacked by a mountain lion.; 03/02/2008; By Kevin Woster, Journal Staff
06 April. Just after 6 p.m., 5' 2", 16-year-old Dionne Rad encountered a cougar while searching for a missing horse on her family farm on Stoddart Creek Road, Inverness Valley, BC. When she left the house on her search, she told her 18-year-old brother Richard where she was going. She found the gelding which she saw had been injured. It had been cut by a branch and was bleeding.
Before Dionne could reach the horse, she had the sensation that she was being watched. Looking over her left shoulder, she caught the glare of green eyes stalking her a mere three feet away. These eyes belonged to a full-grown cougar that apparently had caught the scent of the bleeding horse, and now Dionne was between the cougar and its prey.
Having just passed a fallen tree, Dionne stepped back onto it, increasing her height. In addition she raised her arms over her head. The cougar responded by hissing and swatting in her direction. The girl held her stare toward the cat, but decided looking directly into its eyes might be interpreted as a challenge, so she kept her glare at its white fangs.
Dionne remembered she had brought her cell phone which she didn't usually do, as getting a signal in this area was rare. It had her house phone on speed dial. Fortunately, this time it worked. Her brother Richard answered, and she told him what was going on. Tears from terror began, and Richard calmed her as best he could as he grabbed a shotgun and headed out the door.
He fired at a target in the yard hoping the noise would scare the cat. It did not. Instead the cat slinked closer to Dionne, darting into a bush just inches from where she stood. The cat swiped at her leg, but she moved it away quickly enough to be unhurt as she also maintained her balance. Richard arrived after what seemed an eternity, fired the gun 3 more times into the air, and snatched Dionne from where she stood. The sudden movement combined with the gunfire finally seemed to have an effect and the cougar disappeared.
Her clear thinking bought her time, but her cell phone brought her brother who probably saved her life. Now, Dionne will not go into the fields without her cell phone.
Source: (invermerevalleyecho.com part of BClocalnews.com; Local girl uses wits against cat; By Janine Toms; 04/30/2008)
25 December. Christmas morning a fully grown cougar jumped out behind sisters Morgen and Brittany Shull. They were out for run down Willingdon Beach Trail inside the city limits of Powell River on the mainland's Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada.
Morgen said she heard a crackling in the bushes and caught something out of the corner of her eye. The girls turned around right away and the cougar was already only three feet behind them. It was crouched, staring at them, apparently deciding whether to attack or not.
The girls screamed but decided they sounded too girlie, maybe like prey, so they made their voices deeper and raised their arms. The cougar continued its stare. With their intended route blocked, they had to head toward Laburnum Avenue. The cougar backed off but was stalking them the whole way.
When they reached Laburnum, they called 911 and their parents with Brittany's cellphone. While their parents and uncle went out right away to help the girls, 911 was not helpful. The operator stayed on the line for only a short time. After asking them what they were doing, 911 basically hung up on the girls. When they called 911 back, the operator said they contacted the conservation office which informed 911 they won't send help unless something has happened.
Their parents went down the trail to find the girls there, but they were already on Laburnum Avenue. Their uncle, then, was the first to find them in the freezing cold with his warm car. 911 did not dispatch any aid whatsoever and apparently would not do so unless the girls had already been injured or killed.
After the incident Morgen said they heard warning signs were posted at Willingdon Beach. When she went back to check, she finally found a paper sign, torn and laying a ditch. When she and Brittany were there, no signs were in view warning of a cougar in the area. The parents of the sisters spoke with the caretaker at Willingdon Beach. He said a cougar had been spotted there for about a month but that no signs had been posted in reference to current sightings.
Source: Peak Online; Sisters out for run evade cougar on trail, Christmas Day run turns into scary experience; by Paul Galinski | firstname.lastname@example.org; Published: Friday, January 9, 2009
2009 (1 Non-injury Report)
11 or 12 August. 89-year-old Raymond Orr was riding his four-wheeler on his wooded property off Little Hanaford Road near Centralia, Washington, when he hit a log and overturned. Orr told Erik Olsen of the Riverside Fire Authority that cougars appeared and circled around him. He credits his big, black dog Jake with saving him by staying by his side and fending them off, as Orr had broken several bones in the crash and was helpless until relatives found him. He had used sticks to try pull himself toward home but basically Orr was stranded in the pouring rain and colder temperatures (upper 40's to mid 50's at night) for two days until he was found on 08/13/2009.
Olson says paramedics were initially skeptical - until they saw many cougar tracks around the area where Orr had been stranded. Olson says one of the firefighters is an avid hunter and confirmed the tracks were made by cougars.
Orr's neice, Sue Schofield, said the family was thankful for Jake and impressed with Orr's determination. "He's a tough man. He's gone through a lot." She added that he was a ranger back in wartime and knew how to survive. He was treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and was expected to make a full recovery.
Sources: ( The Olympian 89-year-old man stranded; dog fends off cougars; AP; 08/14/2009) (KMNT Radio; Dog Guards Injured Master from Cougars after ATV Mishap; staff; before 08/16/2009) (KIRO TV; Injured Man Credits Dog With Protecting Him From Cougars; staff; 08/14/2009) (Email from cougar author Jerry Stoddard)
2010 (2 unconfirmed-as-by-a cougar Reports, 1 Pet Attack Report)
02 January. At about 5:30 p.m., 11-year-old Austin Forman, accompanied by the dog Angel that his family adopted, was charged by what he first thought was another dog in the back yard of his home in Boston Bar, British Columbia, in the south central part of the province about 150 miles northeast of Vancouver. Instead, the animal was an adult female cougar. It was dark and Austin was doing his chore of hauling firewood in from his back yard via wheel barrel. Angel had acted strangely, staying uncharacteristically close to the boy. Then Angel began running around the yard, barking wildly. RCMP officers speculated that the cougar had likely been watching and stalking the boy as he pushed the wheel barrel around the yard. Austin said:I was about five feet away from the basement door and she had run toward me and that's when the cougar had attacked her and brought her under the stairs. It was coming after me and Angel intercepted. The cougar grabbed Angel.When Austin had paused his wheel barrel full of wood, he had heard the sound of something crunching in the snow. He saw a dark shadow about an arm's length from him. Just then it lunged. When the cougar charged Austin, Angel took the blow instead. She leapt a full 1.5 meres above the ground, sailed over a lawn mower, and intercepted it mid-air, just as it was about to pounce on Austin. With Angel entangled in a frantic battle, Austin stayed long enough to determine it was not just another dog but a cougar and then ran inside his home to have his mom Sherri call for help while Angel continued to battle. "I was terrified," said Austin. "My dog saved my life, but now the cougar had her." For awhile Angel and the cougar were both heard. Then it went silent. From inside the house all the family could hear was the heavy breathing of the cougar. Austin's 17-year-old sister Holly said it had Angel's head in its mouth and was suffocating her.
Though his panicked mom first called her father-in-law, the father-in-law had her call the police. Luckily Constable Chad Granvelle was less than a minute away. He arrived fearing the worst for the boy. Finding the boy safe but his rescuer under attack, he quickly turned his attention to the cougar who had dragged Angel under the porch. He found the cougar was chewing on Angel's jugular. With his flashlight in one hand and his gun in the other, he took a shot at the cougar's rump because they were tangled together, and he didn't want to hit Angel. The cougar didn't react, so he courageously climbed down and got close enough to put a shot through the cougar's head.
When a neighbor on the scene dragged the body of the young, cougar out, the dog was still laying there lifeless. With the family gathered to console Austin, after minutes, the dog came around and began to drag herself through the snow. Apparently the dog had been partially suffocated and/or in shock. Then she coughed a bit and looked for Austin. When she found him, she began wagging her tail, snuggled up to him, and licked him. Mr. Forman, who was initially reluctant to adopt Angel last year now can't say enough about the dog. "My son was saved by Angel." He also remarked that the firewood chore will have to be done in daylight in the future.
"I'm pretty sure that if my dog wasn't there I wouldn't be here right now," Austin said on the day after the attack. "Thank goodness we are both alive and she protected me."
Angel had a fractured skull; many puncture wounds in the head, neck, and thigh; an injured sinus cavity; and a ripped eyelid. Angel was sent to the Vet on the following Monday where she went through an hour and a half of surgery which included repositioning and building up the roof of the frontal sinus bone that fractured under the cougar's grip. She remained at the hospital until Wednesday to rest her and to attend drainage from the surgery. Then she was sent to recover a few more days with a family friend, as she might get too excited around the Forman children. Perhaps as an incidental blessing, Veterinarian Dr. Jack Anvik, owner of the Sardis Animal Hospital in Chilliwack, B.C., said he found Angel had a congenital heart murmur. He said this is something that needs to be monitored but may not be a problem.
The cougar's body will be sent for necropsy to determine if any condition, injury, or disease may have contributed to the cougar choosing to attack easy prey.
Sources: (The Globe and Mail | British Columbia; Pet retriever defends boy, 11, against cougar attack; Justin Hunter; 01/04/2010) (MailOnline Pictured: The golden retriever called 'Angel' who took on a mountain lion and saved his 11-year-old owner; By Mail Foreign Service; 01/04/2010) (National Post; Family dog saves B.C. boy from cougar attack; by Lora Grindlay, Canwest News Service; 01/04/2010) (The Vancouver Sun; Dog who saved B.C. boy from cougar still in veterinary hospital; Tiffany Crawford; 01/05/2009) (TheProgress.com; The story of Angel the hero dog goes viral; by Jennifer Feinberg, the Chilliwack Progress; 01/08/2010) (The Vancouver Sun; Retriever saves 11-year-old boy from cougar attack in Boston Bar; by Denise Ryan, 01/04/2010)
03 January. A Santa Barbara County, California, man was reported to be recovering after sustaining scratches from a mountain lion encounter. The man was walking with his girlfriend on the Fremont Trail near San Marcos Pass. A young mountain lion walked up behind him and grabbed his backpack that had sandwiches in it. During this contact, he was scratched on his arm. His house cat was hiking with him and ran away. The man believed that the mountain lion ran after his cat and undoubtedly killed it, but the cat returned home some 20 hours after the incident.
This incident was not confirmed by the county sheriff's office or Fish and Game officials, so the report is on this "other incidents" page, though I feel the details are credible and the "victim" lacked a motive to deliberately fabricate the story. Further, President and Executive Director of the Wildland Residents Assn., Inc. Michael S. Williams commented, "The information I have came from the Sheriff's Department, not the local rumor mill...There is no shortage of lions in the area. They do appear to be more active in the communities of late, thus our word of caution."
Sources: (KEYT3 ABC Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara Man Attacked by Mountain Lion; 01/04/2010) (edhat.com | Santa Barbara; Update on Mountan Lion attack; from Wildland Residents Association; 01/05/2010) (emails from Wildland Residents Assn., Inc. President-Executive Director:,Michael S. Williams; 01/06/2010) (Multi-Use Trails Coalition Blog | Updated Info About The Mountain Lion Attack Earlier This Week; 01/05/2010)
01 December. 29-year-old Frank Harmes, who lives on a bluff off of Royster Drive near Morgan City, Alabama, was walking a stray dog on a leash attached to his left wrist to a neighbor's home near Union Grove down in Greenbriar Cove. It was between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., with the dog walking in front of him, when he heard a stick break behind him. He looked back and saw a panther stalking him within about 10 feet on an incline above him. Harmes said, "I knew not to run and get chased down, so I stood my ground. The dog was trying to get away from the cougar, and she kept pulling me back."
When the cougar got about five feet from him, he said he began kicking at the animal. Harmes says whenever it took a step toward him, he kicked at it to try and drive it off. Instead, it caught his leg and clawed it, cutting through his double insulated camouflage pants into the skin of his right leg. Luckily, he had the Buck knife his wife Sherry had given him with him. He had reached into his right pocket to unsnap the button on the knife sheath. Now he got it out of it's sheath and stabbed the panther twice, first in its right shoulder and, when it turned around to get back up the incline, next in its rear quarters. After that, he says it kind of limped away. He believes the knife his wife had given him for their November anniversary saved his life.
Shaken from this unexpected encounter, he says he settled himself down and cut about 3 feet from the dog's leash to make a tourniquet and then looped the remaining leash to his belt to keep the dog secured. Since the attack happened about 100 yards from his neighbor field, he didn't make it to her house but did manage to get the dog to her barbed wire fence and drop it on the other side.
Harmes described the lion as, "It was a Florida panther. The tan ones that have the white spots around the whiskers." He said it was at least 3 feet tall from its paws to the top of its head and about 7 feet long, including the tail. He said he thought the cougar was thin, its rib cage exposed and the hip bones and hindquarters sticking up. Because it was still day time when he was attacked, Harmes felt this purported nighttime hunter had to be hungry to attack then. He also feared that a nighttime predator that attacked in the daytime might be one sick with rabies, so his concern that he might be exposed to rabies led him to wash his wounds in the creek on the way home. Fear of disease may also be what caused the thorough cleaning of his knife when he got home.
When he returned home, only his grandmother was there. Helen Burke, 77, cleaned his wounds with alcohol and paper towels, and she bandaged them. Then Harmes cleaned the knife blade with alcohol. When his wife came home , she used bleach on the blade. Because of worsening bruising, Harmes went to the Marshall Medical Center North's emergency room in nearby Guntersville, Alabama, the next morning. There he received treatment including a tetanus shot. Since he believes the panther may have been sickly, he chose to undergo a series of 6 rabies shots that hospital staff advised for safety.
An Alabama Department of Conservation biologist reported he tested the knife blade for blood for DNA in an effort to confirm a cougar is what attacked Harmes. But he could find no blood on the knife which Harmes reported was cleaned in both alcohol and bleach prior to testing which Harmes was unaware would be available. It has to be noted that Harmes did not contact the news but that WHNT News 19 took the initiative to first contact him after hearing rumors of the attack from the reporter's relatives living in Harmes's area. Officials did not look for tracks or send tracking dogs to the area, as they deny that cougars/panthers live in Alabama, according to WHNT News.
People in the area have reported seeing panthers there for many years now. Harmes says he has been laughed at when mentioning panther presence in his rural region, but now he feels it is especially important to get the warning out that they are, indeed, in his area which is also near Huntsville, Alabama, "for the protection of their children and their animals. And those who are aware of these cougars, they need to start coming forward and saying something."
Harmes's near neighbors, Douglas and Delphina Mason, tell of "waiting out" a cougar apparently approaching the car they were in. When it got within about 7 feet, they got out of it and "took off" for their porch. Harmes' neighbors say panthers tend to stay around the bluff areas leading down into the cove, but do come out of the cove occasionally to feed. They mentioned cat food they leave out on their back porch and state that they have seen other panthers there. Mason says he saw a tan cougar on his back porch a year ago. "There was a black one with it, and it was eating cat food too." His relatives claim their hunting camera captured a dark gray panther about 4 years ago.
Because the state of Alabama denys cougars are in their state, this incident could not be confirmed by officials in that state. Because I could not obtain medical statements or see photos of Harmes wounds, I could not confirm this as a cougar incident to my own satisfaction, so Harmes's report has been moved to this "other incidents" page.
Sources: (WHNT Channel 19 News; Panther Attacks Marshall County Man; by Reporter Carson Clark; 12/03/2010; Union Grove, Alabama) (email from Carson Clark 12/08/2010) (Fox10 TV; Panther attacks N. Ala. man: Big cat clawed man's leg; Associated Press; 12/04/2010) (WAFF48 TV News; Man goes through rabies treatment after large cat attack; By Stephen McLamb; 12/03/2010) (Decatur Daily.com; Man fends off cougar attack using knife; By Ronnie Thomas; 12/16/2010) (email from Ronny Thomas 12/30/2010)
2011 (3 Non-injury Reports, 1 Pet Attack, 1 Defensive Injury Incident)
25/26 June. 23-year-old Parker Smith of Duluth, Georgia, was riding in the back country of New Mexico at night when he saw a mountain lion by the lighting of a helmet-mounted flashlight. He was riding the arduous Tour Divide, not only for the epic experience, but to raise funds for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta along with his teammate 28-year-old Rob Giannini. The Tour Divide is a 2,745 mile mountain bike contest stretching over multiple mountain ranges as well as hot desert areas from Banff, Alberta, in Canada to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells, New Mexico, that would take the two almost 18 full days to complete.
Smith and Giannini were riding side by in about the center of western New Mexico, north of Silver City. Up to that point, these experienced riders had avoided night rides -- partially because they couldn't see the trails well enough under a flashlight and partially to keep encounters with nocturnal carnivores to a minimum. On this second day before their journey's end, to make up some time, they decided to ride after dark. They were using only one flashlight to light their trail, and since they had had no problems with wildlife, they had ditched the extra weight of their anti-predator equipment for the final push through New Mexico.
"It was dark and we were near a water source," Smith said. "I could see lots of eyes reflecting back from the woods from whatever lives out there -- deer, antelope, even some cows. So we weren't too concerned about the eyes because we'd seen it a lot."
Then, however, Smith saw a mountain lion in the flashlight. It was about twice the size of the average dog and only about 10 feet away. As the lion approached, at first he first he pedaled faster, and the lion responded by running faster. Smith quickly realized his mistake in trying to outrun it and triggering its predatory instincts. The lion was growling and speeding its chase, so Smith turned around to face the mountain lion before it could attack with purpose.
"I knew we couldn't outrun it," Smith said. "So I jumped off the bike and held it up between me and the mountain lion. Then I just started jumping around, yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs and trying to make myself as big and scary as possible. It was growling. I was screaming. It was intense. It probably only lasted about 20 seconds. But it felt like forever."
Giannini had not seen the mountain lion at first, He didn't know what was going on when Parker first started screaming. "I couldn't see anything, and every time Parker looked at me, his flashlight blinded me. I didn't know whether to run or help...It was intense. It was something I'll never forget." When Giannini turned around he turned on his light and saw the cat stalking them from the side of the road. At this point he says he noticed a smaller mountain lion on the other side of the road as well.
Both men yelled for about a minute. Undoubtedly as a result of their aggression, the lion broke off it's advance, and the two men not only escaped harm but went on to finish together, tied for 4th--after another night ride to avoid the desert heat and wind the next day. Many of the field of 86 riders were unable to finish this demanding race at all. The men raised $4,000 for their Divide For Children charity. Donations were still being accepted.
Sources: (Divide For Children; Raiaing Money for Children's Miracle Network: by Robert C. Giannini; June 2011) (Gwinnett Daily Post; Duluth man bikes across nation for charity: UGA grad takes part in 17-day journey for Children's Healthcare; By Frank Reddy, Staff Writer; 07/18/2011) (Online Athens - Athens Banner-Herald; Nearly 2,800-mile trek takes unexpected turn for pair of students; By Roger Clarkson; 07/24/2011) (Email from Robert Giannini 07/27/2011)
04 July. At about 7:20 p.m., 18-year-old Erin Laberge of Nanaimo, BC, on Vancouver Island was confronted by a cougar as she was biking home near Mountainview Elementary School. She saw what she thought was a dog in a ditch, but as she cycled closer, the animal looked at her, and she realized it was a cougar--now just six metres away.My heart stopped. You know when you have a dream and your legs are shaking and can't run? That's what it felt like.Laberge said her first instinct was to cycle away, but she recalled wildlife experts and school talks warning that fleeing could encourage an attack. The cougar began circling her and crouching low to the ground. She had been bent low over her bike and now, instead of peddaling off, she slammed on her brakes, turned around, and stood up to make herself appear as big as possible. She yelled and rang her bike bell, making as much noise as possible. The cougar ran off into the nearby brush, and Laberge was able to get to the nearby school and call her parents. In the future, she said she will chose a safer route home.
Nanaimo RCMP Sergeant Sheryl Armstrong and Conservation Officer Steve Ackles arrived, and the area was searched for the cougar. Despite the use of hound dogs, which initially picked up a scent, the animal was not located.
Sources: (The Vancouver Sun; Nanaimo teen describes how she won showdown with cougar; By Danielle Bell, Nanaimo Daily News; 04/06/2011) (News CTV British Columbia; Nanaimo teen fends off cougar attack; By Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca; 04/05/2011) (cnews, CANOE.CA; Cougar stalks B.C. teen; By QMI Agency; 07/05/2011) (CKNW AM 980; Cougar attack averted; by Reporter Carson Clark; 07/05/2011)
12 July. Conservation officials say sometime Tuesday morning a cougar grabbed a small dog at a Lake-ridge Road property in the Lakeview Heights area after its owner let the dog out. The owner intervened in an effort to protect the dog and was scratched in the fracas. The dog sustained minor injuries.
After the confrontation with the man, the cougar bolted into the nearby woods of Kalamoir Regional Park, a 26-hectare park on Okanagan Lake in West Kelowna. According to conservation officials, the cougar returned to the Lake-ridge Road residence after the initial attack.
Inspector for the Okanagan region of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, Barbara Leslie, said there were seven different reports of sightings of the cougar in the neighbourhood over the previous few days. She said a cougar houndsman was called in response. "We felt with all the reports, the attack on the dog, and the condition of the cougar, it was better to err on the side of public safety," said Leslie.
Quick action by conservation officers resulted in the killing of a 13-month-old cougar with the distinctive markings that had been reported. It was spotted around 10 a.m. on a trail in the park on the same day of the attack and was killed with one shot there. The park was closed temporarily as conservation officers removed the dead animal from the beach.
Earlier that day, regional district spokesman Bruce Smith said that just minutes after he issued a warning about the cougar attack and a plan to close Kalamoir Park temporarily, he received word the cougar had been shot. "We were on our way to the park with signs and to close and lock the gate when we were told they had got the cougar," said Smith.
Leslie said it was a young cat but was very thin. Tests on the animal would be conducted at a laboratory in Alberta.
Sources: (AM 1150.ca Newscenter; Kalamoir Park declared safe after cougar shot; By Howard Alexander, Kelwona; 07/12/2011) (CTV News; Cougar killed after attacking dog in West Kelowna; By ctvbc.ca; 07/14/2011) (Global BC; UPDATE: Dog attacking cougar killed in West Kelowna park; By Doris Janssen, CHBC News; 07/13/2011) (Castanet.net; Attacking cougar shot dead; By Wayne Moore - Story 63151; 07/12/2011) (Kelowna Capital News; COs put down cougar near local park; By Alistair Waters; 07/13/2011)
16 July. Troy Vincent was doing a project in his driveway at his home in a semi-rural residential area just below Wanship Dam in Wanship, Utah. A cougar had apparently walked toward the driveway along a fence line without knowing Vincent was kneeling just around the corner of the fence. "He didn't see me until he come around the corner," Vincent said. "But when he saw me he made a little growl. I turned around, and the mountain lion was eye to eye with me about three foot away. And I was scared."
As Vincent stood up, the big cat swatted the calf of his leg with its paw. Vincent said it felt like a boxer had punched him, but its claws did not scratch him. Vincent stood his ground instead of running away in order to discourage the mountain lion from pouncing. "And then I kicked him in the face real hard and hit his two canine teeth with my toe," Vincent said. "It was pretty scary."
The cat's teeth left marks in Vincent's shoes, but did not penetrate to the skin. Vincent's tough response apparently worked as the cougar fled. As the animal ran away, Vincent grabbed an axe and ran after it to make, sure it was gone, because he saw his children coming down the street. "Riding their bikes this way, right when it happened," Vincent said.
Vincent chased the cat into a neighbor's yard and called the authorities. A team of dogs brought in by the Utah Division of Wildlife was unable to locate the cougar. "It's probably gone," said Phil Douglass, a spokesman for the division. "But if we do get another sighting, we'll be on there to try to track it. At this time of year, it could be miles away." Though Douglass
Vincent sustained a bruise on his toe from kicking the mountain lion but no other significant injury. He felt the incident was a surprise chance encounter, not an attack. "If he was in a full stalk after me, I think he would have got me," Vincent said. "He wouldn't have made no noise. He would have got me by the back of the neck."
If the animal is captured, Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation Officer Bruce Johnson said division officials will probably kill it as a safety measure to protect the public. "Some behaviors exhibited by the lion were characteristic of a high-risk animal," he said. "It appeared in a residential area, which is 'not typical,' and it did not immediately flee the man," Johnson said. Other sightings in the area added to assessing the cougar as high risk to human safety.
Sources: (UTAH NEWS: The Salt Lake Tribune; Mountain lion leaves Wanship man with sore toe; By Erin Alberty; 07/17/2011) (MySA-SanAntonio's Home Page; Utah man fights off mountain lion, injures foot; AP; 07/18/2011) (Connect2Utah.com; Utah Man Survives Cougar Attack Mostly Uninjured; KUTV; 07/18/2011) (KSL TV -- Utah; Man tells how he survived a cougar attack; By John Hollenhorst;07/18/2011)
25 October. Between 5:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m, 32-year-old Brad K from Delta, British Columbia, in Canada was hunting mule deer near his family's cabin at the south end of Loon Lake about 230 miles northeast of Delta when a cougar surprised him and lunged toward him.
6' tall, 205 pound Brad had been hunting the area all day by truck with his father, and they had seen only one doe, which their license did not allow to be taken. After returning to their cabin at about 4:30 p.m., he decided to hike alone up the hill behind the cabin. Because of the few hunting days available, he wanted to continue hunting but his father was done for the day. He found a place up the hill to sit and look for deer through the trees. The sun was going over the hill when he heard a cracking sound down the hill behind him. He stoud up and turned around with his rifle held at his waist. The sound had become a louder thumping like a deer running, and he was startled to see a cougar 4 to 5 feet off the ground jumping toward him--only 6 to 8 feet away.
With no time to aim, he shot from his waist, hitting the cougar in midair. Luckily the hammer was back on his rifle, and it was ready to be fired or he felt he would not have had time to get a shot off before the cougar pounced on him. Wounded in the chest, the cougar landed 4 to 6 feet away from him, as he had stepped back out of the way. It let out "the craziest cat scream" and went up the hill several feet and then turned around and came back. Brad found it in his scope and shot again, this time hitting the cougar in the left shoulder. He shot two more times, missing the cat both times. The cat crawled 10 to 15 feet up the hill again and rolled back down into a tree.
Relieved the cat was finally dead, Brad felt it was by far the closest to death he'd ever come. He explained that in Canada you can only have one bullet in the chamber and three in the clip, so your clip only holds four. Luckily he did not need more, as he did not have any more with him. He indicated he would carry spare ammunition with him in the future because of this close call.
The cat was a female that he estimated was around two years old. It was 6' 9" from its nose to tip of its 32" tail and underweight for its size at about 90 pounds. Though he was an experienced outdoorsman, Brad had never seen a cougar in the wild before. He knew many people in the area that had been there for 30 years and had never heard of cougars that far up the lake. "As a 14-15 year old we'd walk up the hill all summer."
Sources: emails from Brad K; 11/06/2011, 11/07/2011, 12/09/2011
2012 (1 Possibly Unintentional Injury Attack, 1 Non-injury report)
01 July. At about 1:00 a.m. a 63-year-old, unnamed, Marin County man was camping northwest of Nevada City on a sandbar along a tributary of the Yuba River when he was attacked by a female mountain lion, sustaining numerous bites and cuts. Nevada city is a Gold Country town about 40 miles west of Truckee.
The man had driven from the Bay Area and arrived outside Nevada City near dusk on June 30, 2012. He had hiked a short distance up a trail before preparing his sleeping bag at a favorite spot for the first night of his planned multi-day backpacking trip--at around 10 p.m. Around 1 a.m. that night, the man awoke to a sensation of something pressing on the side of his head. It turned out to be a mountain lion's paw. Awakened out of a deep sleep so suddenly, he felt his startled reaction may be what triggered the cougar into attacking. He said the lion bit him through his sleeping bag and also through the cap he was wearing and his clothes. Since his sleeping bag was a mummy bag, the man said he wasn't able to fight back very effectively, but he did his best to protect his head. He said the attack lasted less than two minutes, and then the lion backed off and just stared at him for about 30 seconds from about 15 yards away. Then he said the lion disappeared into the darkness.
The man hiked back to his car and drove to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley, California, where he was treated for severe puncture wounds and scratches. He was bitten in the scalp, hand, wrist, and armpit, and his back was scratched. Game wardens interviewed him at the hospital and collected evidence, including his sleeping bag and a knit cap, which had puncture marks in it. A sample of the lion's saliva was recovered from the man's shirt. After about six hours of treatment, the man was released.
Later, the California Department of Fish and Game confirmed the attack was from a female lion based on a forensic examination of the man, his belongings, and the scene, said game warden Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the department. When wardens visited the scene with tracking dogs, they found mountain lion tracks. Not far away, they found a dead domestic cat, which later proved to have been killed and partially eaten by a mountain lion.
Though confirmed as an attack by a mountain lion, the incident does not fit the profile of an intentional attack, as there was little motion from the man, and the attack was broken off by the lion without much struggle and apparently without the man even yelling and/or screaming.
Officials surmised that the attacking cougar was either rabid or simply a curious young animal investigating a strange new object in its territory. Tim Dunbar, executive director of the Sacramento-based Mountain Lion Foundation, thought the latter theory more likely. Since they found a domestic cat carcass killed by a lion nearby, it is also possible the cougar was protecting a kill from a potential intruder.
Fish and Game wardens were still attempting to track the mountain lion the day after the attack. If found, California state policy to kill cougars that attack people was expected to be followed and then a necropsy would undoubtedly be conducted to determine the animal's health.
Sources: (MercuryNews.com; Bay Area man attacked by mountain lion while sleeping in forest; By Matt Weiser; 07/03/2012) (News 10 | ABC - Sacramento, CA; Nevada County camper mauled in sleep by mountain lion; By Paul Janes; 07/02/2012) (The Sacramento Bee; Mountain Lion Attacks Man in Nevada County; By Matt Weiser; 07/02/2012) (The Examiner - San Francisco; Marin County man recovering after mountain lion attack in Nevada County; By Bay City News; 07/03/2012)
2014 (1 Non-injury report)
04 August. At about 4:30 p.m., 40-year-old Kyra Kopenstonsky was hiking alone in Southwestern Colorado on Coltrains Trail near Down Valley Park in Placerville (16 miles northwest of Telluride) when she encountered a mountain lion. Only a year and a half ago, Ohio native Kopestonsky had moved to Placerville because she enjoyed hiking area trails. "I [had] never seen a mountain lion." That changed Monday afternoon when she hiked 10 minutes off the main trail and heard a twig snap. "I just sort of caught a glimpse of brown out of the corner of my eye and thought 'oh there's an animal here.' I turned around and looked, and then [the mountain lion] was just standing there between 10 and 15 feet away from me."
According to a report by the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the lion stalked the hiker for about 20 minutes.Kopenstonsky told deputies the stalking activity lasted about 20 minutes before the mountain lion stopped following her. She said she initially grabbed a large branch to “attempt to look big,” and when the lion did not attack, she began singing to try to scare it away. When the cat laid down and began grooming, the hiker tried to take a few steps backwards, but the lion then jumped forward and got into a crouching position. Kopenstonsky said this cycle repeated itself, and at times, the lion appeared to wander off. However, when the hiker started to step backwards again, the lion came at her from the side. Eventually the lion retreated, and several minutes later, Kopenstonsky made it to the trailhead.Kopenstonsky told deputies that when she first saw the animal, she picked up a large branch and attempted to look big. That did not seem to faze the cat, so she said she did the next thing that came to her mind. "I don’t know why, I just started singing opera really loud," Later she told KUSA. "It kind of put its ears down and just kept looking at me, and it sort of backed away. Then, it came around the bushes and came towards me again and crouched about 10 feet away."
Although the singing did not completely deter the animal, it may have distracted it from directly attacking her. Koestonsky said that the cat alternated from grooming itself, pacing, and following her. At one point, the mountain lion was a mere eight feet away. "I would back up and it would creep forward, so I’d stop. Eventually, it sort of crouched down, like part way, so, I start backing up down the mountain, which was really steep."
The hiker took advantage of lulls in the encounter to call her roommate, who in turn informed the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff William Masters and six deputies responded to the emergency, but Kopestonsky emerged at the trailhead by herself. Deputies noted that the woman was shaken, but uninjured. She speculated that the predator eventually left her alone because it lost interest. Masters said there have been dozens of mountain lion sightings over the years, "but this is only the second stalking incident reported."
Kopestonsky estimated that the lion weighed about 150 pounds and told deputies that it was "two and a half to three feet long with no identifiable spots, tag or collar." She also told deputies that the lion did not appear to be injured or acting strangely, such as walking in circles.
Sources: (KDVR | FOX 31 | Denver ; Mountain lion ‘stalks’ woman in southwest Colorado; By David Mitchell; 08/05/2014) (OutdoorHub; Colorado Hiker Sings Opera to Calm Stalking Mountain Lion; By Daniel Xu +; 08/08/2014) (9 News | KUSA | Denver; A hiker had a close encounter with a mountain lion in Down Valley Park on Monday, and singing might have saved her life.; By Summer Nettles; 08/05/2014) (Telluride Daily Planet; Placerville woman safe after being stalked by mountain lion: Escapes unharmed, but shaken; By Collin McRann, Staff reporter; 08/07/2014)
Confirmed attacks: [Beier's Study Span 1890-1990] [1991-2000 attacks] [2001-2010 attacks] [2011-2010 attacks]
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This page contains explicit attack accounts of incidents which are either unconfirmed as by a cougar, Non-injury incidents, those involving pets, or those involving hunters. See my Confirmed Attacks pages for incidents resulting in injury or death to a human that have been confirmed by officials or by scrupulous investigation.
For both confirmed and other incidents, I must rely on news reports and reports from "scouts" I have in various locations. Feel free to be a scout for this research. Meanwhile, be aware that the data here may fall short of the goal to reveal all injury attacks and/or to confirm all genuine accounts. If you know of an incident not listed here, please send an email to .
Permission freely granted to reference or even reproduce this page as long as links remains intact which credit all sources.