A cyclist in the United States has been mauled to death by a cougar and a second seriously injured when they were attacked by the animal in Washington State.
TV station KIRO 7 reports that according to the Washington Department of Fish and Game, it is only the second human death caused by a cougar – also known as a mountain lion – in the state during the past 100 years.
Officials later tracked down the animal involved in Saturday’s incident, a male aged three or four years and weighing 100 pounds, and shot it dead.
It was found standing over the body of the dead cyclist, a 32-year-old male, whom the cougar had dragged to its den following the attack.
The cyclists had been riding mountain bikes on gravel tracks in North Bend, 30 miles from Seattle, when the incident happened.
The 31-year-old man who survived the attack phoned for help and was airlifted to hospital, where he is now said to be in a satisfactory condition.
Captain Alan Myers from Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife revealed some the survivor‘s recollection of the attack, saying: “He said he had his whole entire head in the jaws of this animal, and was being shaken around very, very horribly.”
The riders realised they were being chased by the big cat at around 11am on Saturday morning, Captain Myers continued.
"So they stopped and they made a lot of noise, 'which is exactly what we counsel people to do.
"The two victims then took a minute and were catching their breath about this amazing, incredibly scary event that just occurred and suddenly the victim who's now in Harborview was attacked again by this cougar. It latched onto his head."
The animal then pursued the other man, who was trying to escape by running into the woods.
Attacks by cougars on humans are extremely rare, with the animals usually shying away from contact with people.
"The fact that it stayed in close proximity to these folks and attacked and stayed with them is highly, highly unusual," Captain Myers added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.