Park bicyclist conquers cat

by Mike Dawson
Peninsula Daily News
Sunday, May 26, 1996

PORT ANGELES - Of all the humans the cougar could have attacked Friday, it had the rotten luck to tangle with Phil Anderson, dog wrestler, jujitsu fan.

"I went to my back, wrapped my legs around him, rolled over and mounted him and started choking him, choking him forever," Anderson said Saturday. "It was just nuts."

Anderson, 28, a Port Angeles mountain bike enthusiast, spent Saturday on the couch, healing from the cougar attack in Olympic National Park.

He had been riding his mountain bike on the Wolf Creek Trail Friday afternoon.The trail is an old road that runs from Whiskey Bend on the Elwha River to Hurrican Ridge.Whiskey Bend is about 20 miles west of Port Angeles. It is also the head of the popular Hume's Ranch Trail.Anderson had ridden his bike up Wolf Creek Trail for about two hours. On the way down, he stopped 150 feet from the parking lot, dismounted the bike and removed his helmet. He picked up a sweatshirt he had left trail-side on his way up. He had just pulled the heavy, black sweatshirt down over this head when he spied his opponent.

"He just moved out of the shadows, so smoothly and quickly."

When the cat came at him, he started running backwards, he said. He figured the cougar weighed about 80 pounds. The cougar kept coming, then leapt at Anderson's chest. Anderson fell to his back, locked his legs around the cougar, flipped over and buried his thumbs in the animal's throat. He kept the front paws pinned back with his forearms, he said. He had the cat pretty much subdued, but it wouldn't die. "I was watching him go in and out," Anderson said. "We were at a stalemate." To his surprise, the cat made no noise while it struggled, Anderson said. He, however, was shouting for help.After about two and a half or three minutes, the cat still wriggling, Anderson got his thumb in the cougar's mouth. He just smashed it," Anderson said.

That gave the cat the edge. As Anderson lost his grip, that cat's claws went into a whirl, ripping at the thick, baggy sweatshirt. Some of the claws caught Anderson's chest. "He put a lot more holes in my sweatshirt than he did in me," Anderson said.

Not wanting any more, the combatants exploded away from each other and ran. Anderson ran down the trail, grabbed a baseball bat in his van and returned for his bike. The cat had stuck around, still looking for food. "He carried off my bag with four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in it," Anderson said. It was the end of Anderson's first cougar sighting.

Anderson is a short, wiry, high-energy kind of guy with powerful arms and legs, a flat stomach and short hair. He's an Olympic Peninsula version of a surfer dude, with a passion for speed and gravity. He's also a mountain bike guide and unemployed waiter.The cougar, rather than picking on a tasty tourist, jumped a former college wrestler. And he has some other skills that prepared him for cougar fighting, he said. "I've been doing this jujitsu dog thing." While unemployed last winter, he spent a lot of time wrestling with a 120-pound German Shepherd named Forest, who was named for the trees.

Forest, who loves to wrestle, has been getting a taste of jujitsu, too. Anderson employs a move he picked up from "ultimate fighting," a new anything-goes sport in which people fight without gloves. The move is a defensive tactic, to help a little guy take down a big guy and choke him out. Anderson had already mastered the move on Forest. So when the cougar came along, Anderson was ready. "It's something I think about all the time," he said.

He had good reason to imagine a cat fight. Cougar sightings have been reported in the Hurricane Ridge and Elwha districts of the Park once a week for the last month, ranger Gary Gissell said. At least two cougars, including one with a limp, have been identified. There may be one or two more, he said. Rangers don't plan to hunt down Anderson's opponent, he said. With so many in the area, there would be no way to tell which one to hunt. Besides, he said, Anderson may have turned the cougar's attention to rabbits. "Hopefull, he may have turned the cougar off from hunting humans," he said. Gissell said he looked over the fight scene and found cougar tracks and signs of a struggle.

He also learned, through Anderson's admission, that Anderson was riding on a trail where bikes are forbidden.The fine is $50. However, Gissel let the injured wrestler off the hook. "The cougar was his warning," he said.

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Thom's Editorial: I saw the interviews with the guy on the TV newscasts. Couple of things tick me off. The Ranger Ricks blame the encounter on "illegal mtn biking" which actually seems irrelevant to the situation and in fact he was off the bike when it actually happened. Secondly I am amazed about how callous the attitude of the Forest Service folks is regarding human life, and their follow up on this. I am shocked by their "why bother" and might as well let people get killed, rather than put forth effort. This seems to be too common an attitude in the western Washington Forest disService.

Source: (Mi Pagina de la Bicicleta; Another Story, Park bicyclist conquers cat; by Mike Dawson, 05/26//1996)

 William Egger   Return to my Phil Anderson report online Go to my Lion Pages Introduction   Lion Attacks Intro Page