May 20, 2018

"The mountain lion dragged the man into the woods as the survivor escaped on his bike to find help about 30 miles east of Seattle."

The Daily News reports.
The survivor told police the cat attacked him first.

"The second victim turned and started to run away," King County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said. "The cougar saw that and went after the second victim."
So in this case, running triggered the animal to abandon the prey it already had in its clutches and to prefer the running man.

Here's a Scientific American article from 2009, "Should You Run or Freeze When You See a Mountain Lion?/New study disputes conventional wisdom to stay put or risk triggering lion's instinct to pursue."
Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis,* studied the behavior of 185 people who were attacked by mountain lions (aka pumas or cougars) between 1890 and 2000 in the U.S. and Canada.... [H]alf of the 18 people who ran when they were attacked escaped injury. The study also found, however, that those who ran had a slightly higher chance of being killed in an attack—28 percent (five) of those who fled died as a result of injuries, compared with 23 percent (eight) of those who remained motionless during big cat attacks. About 39 percent, or 28 people, who moved away slowly when approached by a mountain lion escaped without injury.

On the other hand, people who froze were the least likely to escape injury when a mountain lion attacked. Only 26 percent of them escaped. They also had the greatest frequency of severe injuries: 43 percent of those who stood still in the face of a lion were badly injured compared with 17 percent of those who fled, according to the study.

"Immobility may be interpreted by the mountain lion as a sign that you are vulnerable prey," Coss tells ScientificAmerican.com, adding that not moving could lead the predator to think you're not aware of its presence or are incapable of escaping. Staring down a puma can let the animal know you’re aware it’s looking, though distance can reduce its effectiveness.
________________________

* The phrase "Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis" needs to be rewritten so that it doesn't seem that the "predator–prey relationships" are on the the University of California, Davis campus. Perhaps: "Richard Coss, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis who focuses on the evolution of predator–prey relationships."

57 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

Speaking of editing, I also have a problem with "The mountain lion dragged the man into the woods as the survivor escaped on his bike to find help about 30 miles east of Seattle." What was 30 miles east of Seattle, the attack or where the survivor escaping on his bike found help?

Both isn't a good answer.

gilbar said...

i wondered the 30 miles too!

Also, in wyoming (which has more cougars that about anywhere), they tell you that:

* if you see a cougar, you should be VERY aggressive (loud, big, armed (sticks/guns/h-bombs)) and NOT run OR freeze. You want to intimidate the cat and scare IT


{They don't Really suggest h-bombs; that was my addition)

gilbar said...

they DO suggest throwing rocks (which would work GREAT: IF you were a major league pitcher)

Saint Croix said...

Should you run or freeze when you see a mountain lion?

And the answer is...

Big dog.

EdwdLny said...

Or, carry a suitable firearm and turn the "attacker" into a throw rug.

exhelodrvr1 said...

The mountain bikers were probably white men

exhelodrvr1 said...

Also, when is Meade going to install some mountain lions on your backyard bike trail?

gilbar said...

"Richard Coss, a psychology professor and expert on the evolution of predator–prey relationships at the University of California, Davis"

maybe he's an expert on mom's coming to campus and hitting on their children's roommates?

Humperdink said...

UH oh, they used dogs.

"“We have a manual, and we go step by step, said Rich Beausoleil, the state’s bear and cougar specialist.

“When we do catch an animal, we need to know we caught the right animal,” he said.

...... Nearly five hours after the attack, the hounds found the cougar." (Seattle Times)

Ann Althouse said...

"Also, when is Meade going to install some mountain lions on your backyard bike trail?"

We installed rabbits.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, we have a fox!

Rob said...

The rabbits will attract the cougars.

Darrell said...

I've had good luck making the loudest roar that I can and going at them with a thick branch like a madman. The noise and confusion triggers their flight instinct whether I warrant it or not.

exhelodrvr1 said...

"We installed rabbits"

Then make sure you keep a Holy Hand Grenade with you at all times.

Christopher said...

Being loud and making yourself look as big as possible is usually a good plan.

Make the cougar think that you're just not worth the potential harm.

rhhardin said...

Pour a bowl of milk.

traditionalguy said...

Death by cougar. Some one needs to warn the young men.

rhhardin said...

Rabbits get you wolves. The Lotka-Volterra equations.

Hey Skipper said...

If you are going where the predators roam, don't leave home without it.

Bruce Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

When my late husband and I had a house in the mountains we once observed a cougar across the road hunting pocket gophers and taking them up the hill, presumably to her young. She was unperturbed by passing vehicles.

A young daughter of a local couple whom I knew was attacked by a cougar at a family picnic and dragged by the head into the woods before being rescued. Her skull was crushed and her scalp nearly completely torn off and she was in the hospital for many weeks before being discharged in one piece [unhappily, she was later killed, along with several family members, in a head-on collision].

Bruce Hayden said...

When my kid was little, a year or two old, we were living west of Denver in the mountains. We had a huge porch that faced the Continental Divide, maybe 40-50 miles west. Glorious. And no people to speak of in those 40-50 miles, except for two neighbors. We had a cat living about 1/2 mile below us, that was coming through our property, up a little gulch there, every evening. Would sit with my 12.guage loaded with 00 buck whey they played out on the porch there. And took it along when we three went out walking in the evenings. I used the short barrel. Still think that is the best static defense against mountain lions, though I now might start off with a shell of birdshot, before moving to buckshot. It's loud, hurts if not fatal, has a little spread, and the gun can be used as a club, as a last resort. A bit later, that cat started taking dogs maybe 5 miles east of us, and was ultimately followed back to its lair and removed (I.e. Killed - when they start taking dogs, they are too habituated to humans to safely be allowed to live), after it took a dog too big to carry, and had to drag it. Note about dogs - you probably need at least two of them, to protect each other. That cat was taking the singletons.

Here in NW MT, most of the people live in the midst of a lot of farmland in the valley floor by the river. The mountain lions are almost all higher up, mostly above about 500 feet or more above the valley floor, which means that they aren't seen as much by humans. A lot of them up there, but not so visible, at least here in town. Though I suspect that some of the old deer kills in the woods around here are their work. In any case, around here, when I am, say, riding my bike alone out of sight of any houses, I carry a 9 mm, loaded with alternating hollow point (cats) and solid cast (black bear). I move up to 10 mm when I get higher up, and farther out of town, because we also have brown bear. I shoot the 9 mm guns a lot, probably every week, so am comfortable and fairly accurate with them. Handguns because you can carry them all the time when preditors are a real potential, and semiautomatic because I can get more shots off faster. And that is what I shoot all the time.

Finally, my recommendation is that if you see a mountain lion before he attacks, act aggressive. Running apparently triggers their prey reflex (right before we had that cat in the neighborhood in CO, one took a male jogger in Idaho Springs, maybe 15 miles west of us). The other thing to keep in mind is that the mountain lion you see is not the one to really fear. Rather the one to really fear is the one you don't see. They are, by and large, ambush hunters depending on stealth and dropping onto their prey, breaking their necks.

AllenS said...

Althouse/Meade, if you are confronted by a cougar, throw a rabbit at it.

Leon said...

In a different age instead of saying "cougar euthanized after killing mountain biker" the headline writer would have said "man killer lion shot dead".

Euthanized really

Fritz said...

My brother, who lives in cougar country, is fond of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, known for their ability to keep lions at bay.

Caldwell P. Titcomb IV said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
Speaking of editing,


That was a terrible article. Seattle Times is much better.

"Euthanized" is the wrong word for "shot to death".

"Rich Beausoleil, a cougar specialist in Washington, said this is the death by cougar in the last 94 years." isn't even wrong.

It's illustrated with pictures of people who aren't doing anything.

"of 185 people who were attacked by mountain lions" 39% were not injured? They're speaking of interactions, not attacks, of which there were about 100, not 189.


Saint Croix said...
And the answer is...
Big dog.


It's nice to find someone so pure of heart that they believe that tall tale of a unique evidence-free event, told by a breeder.

Big Mike said...

Great advice, Bruce.

@Skipper, in my opinion you have to be pretty experienced and fairly strong to cope with the recoil of a .44 mag. The good thing about a revolver is that you can start off with lighter rounds like .44 Russian, work up to .44 Special, and eventually .44 magnum, but it’s probably easier, and definitely much cheaper, to do with .357 magnum — start with .38 Special (one of the cheapest cartridges on the market) and work up to .38 +P on the way to .357 magnum. Bruce Hayden is right about his semi-automatic, but if you want to step up to something harder hitting you need to get a second gun.

Fritz said...

@Skipper, in my opinion you have to be pretty experienced and fairly strong to cope with the recoil of a .44 mag.

Depends on whether you expect to hit them or just blow 'em down with the muzzle blast.

I used to shoot silhoutte. A .44 mag was about the minimum necessary to consistently knock down the rams at 100 yds. The hard core guys had rifles converted to single shot pistols. I remember when one of them nicked the chicken at 20 yds with a converted .308 and spun it around on the stand.

"I guess I need to build a bigger gun"

Bruce Hayden said...

"@Skipper, in my opinion you have to be pretty experienced and fairly strong to cope with the recoil of a .44 mag. The good thing about a revolver is that you can start off with lighter rounds like .44 Russian, work up to .44 Special, and eventually .44 magnum, but it’s probably easier, and definitely much cheaper, to do with .357 magnum — start with .38 Special (one of the cheapest cartridges on the market) and work up to .38 +P on the way to .357 magnum. Bruce Hayden is right about his semi-automatic, but if you want to step up to something harder hitting you need to get a second gun."

Good friend carries a light framed .44 mag as his bear gun. Shot it with him a couple years ago, and the felt recoil of 5-6 rounds was worse than the cumulative recoil of 200 rounds of 9 mm to me. I might get the first shot on target if attacked, but wasn't going to get a follow up shot anywhere close. I am nowhere good enough. Maybe you can do it, but I sure can't Which is why I went to 10 mm instead. Plus, I pointed out to him that living where he does, most of the time, in N ID, he is probably much more likely to run into wolves, than brown bears, and 5-6 rounds of .44 mag solid cast Buffalo Bore is maybe not the best thing when facing a pack of wolves. Esp since average pack size in his neighborhood is greater than the number of rounds in that gun. He thought that I was exaggerating, until the time he got a panicked cell phone call in the middle of the night from his 15 year old daughter who was camping up towards the top of the mountain behind them with 2 of her friends. Apparently they had a pack of at least six wolves around their tent. He jumped in his truck with an AR-15, and raced up there, making as much noise as he could, to find the wolves, thankfully, gone. I noted to him that he hadn't grabbed the .44 mag, for good reason. Still, he keeps talking about buying another one. He already owns a (10 mm) G20, which I think would be a better choice.

Bob Boyd said...

These mountain lions are fucking animals.

Lucien said...

What, no “ crash blossom” tag?

Big Mike said...

@Bruce, I was writing for folks who don't know much about guns and are at risk of buying one and then showing up at a range to practice (with or without an instructor). There are plenty of YouTube videos where some nitwit has coaxed his girlfriend into shooting a gun that's too powerful for her and knocking her over. I think you will concede my point that if you are only going to buy one gun, and work your way from a lighter to a heavier caliber, that a revolver is best? And I will concede your point that semis have it all over revolvers when it comes to cyclic rate of fire, capacity, and concealability. I might mention that I've handled a Kahr and a Glock and guns don't come lighter in weight.

But with a semiautomatic one does need to learn how to clear a jam -- in my defensive shooting class only I, with my revolver, and the guy with the Glock did not have a jam on the range.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

I have heard it helps if you bring along an SP101.

Ralph L said...

We need a bigger population for more accurate statistics. I nominate the media and Congress.

'Round here, many foxes have Rabies. A co-worker's brother died from a fox bite because he was too slow to get shots, 70, and not in good health.

Michael K said...

They are, by and large, ambush hunters depending on stealth and dropping onto their prey, breaking their necks.

Yes, since California banned hunting them 50 years ago, the state is over run with them. WE had a number of attacks in our part of Orange County. The National Forest to the east is probably one reason.

One of the attacks we had was a 5 year old boy who was being dragged off into the bushes when passersby beat the lion off with tree branches. The patents had been hiking and taking pictures in the park.

A week later, they had their photos developed (it was a while ago) and, in the background of several taken of the boy, they could see the lion in the brush behind him. The lion had stalked them for an hour.

The most recent attack, before I retired, was the wife of a local oral surgeon who was mountain biking with a girlfriend when they were attacked. The friend beat off the lion but the women was badly injured, especially her face.

Her husband came to the hospital and, because he was a staff doctor, was allowed to see her in the preop room. He fainted when he saw her face.

The sheriffs were looking for the lion when they found another victim. The guy looked like he was fixing a chain on his bike and the lion got him from behind. It ate his liver and dragged him into the brush for a meal later.

Both ambush attacks and the lion could be beaten off by others.

Big Mike said...

@Hammond, it's a good gun chambered in .357 mag (see my comment at 8:22), but be aware that it only holds five rounds unless you get it in .22 LR, which is not much of a stopper for anything larger than a squirrel.

Hey Skipper said...

@Skipper, in my opinion you have to be pretty experienced and fairly strong to cope with the recoil of a .44 mag. The good thing about a revolver is that you can start off with lighter rounds like .44 Russian, work up to .44 Special, and eventually .44 magnum,

Which is exactly what we did every spring.

We lived in Alaska, where the threat was primarily bears, black or brown, then wolves. To me, the .44 mag was a good compromise between portability and effectiveness. A 30-30 rifle, or a shotgun, would have been more effective, but too much bother when just taking the dog for a walk.

The summer after we left, my across the street neighbor -- just out to walk the dog -- dropped a charging brown bear sow with his .44.

buwaya said...

Spears.
The Maasai carry them for good reasons, and so also all ancient peoples wherever large predators existed. In India they carried lathis (quarterstaffs, more or less).
Maybe better than a gun for this purpose.

REI could sell lots of these. Maybe its better exercise to carry a spear/quarterstaff while running, a bit of upper-body workout as a bonus.

Paul said...

A good .357 Magnum would have taken care of that cat.. but California just won't let hikers protect themselves with any realistic weapon.

JPTravis said...

Had a long talk with the guy in Reno that officials call when they want to "euthanize" a mountain lion, right after he'd been called out with his dogs to get a lion that had attacked a little dog in some lady's yard. He said most people would be amazed at how much ground a lion will cover, and the places they will go. He followed that lion for dozens of miles through fenced-in backyards and public playgrounds, in Reno suburbs where people probably had no idea they had a mountain lion nearby. His advice for lion confrontations is advice I've heard before: fight. With whatever you have. And keep fighting. Pretty much the opposite of the advice for bears. And oh yeah, make it clear from the beginning that you intend to fight because your intention will show up in your stance and your smell and lions don't really like to fight. Which means the mountain bikers in the story above you ran away did just the opposite of what they should have. I would like to think if my buddy was being dragged in to the woods by a mountain lion I wouldn't ride away to "get help."

Michael K said...

He said most people would be amazed at how much ground a lion will cover, and the places they will go.

A lady I know here in Tucson was walking her little dog not far from where we live (in the foothills) when a mountain lion leaped out of the bushes near her and took a quail in mid flight. Didn't bother her but she doesn't walk there anymore, I would guess.

My son gave me a trail camera for my birthday and, if I could figure out how to program it, I would set it up to see what comes around here at night. I've seen a big bobcat and a wolf, so far, Both in daylight.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

"The mountain lion dragged the man into the woods as the survivor escaped on his bike in an effort to get help about 30 miles east of Seattle."

OK, the help he went to get was located about 30 miles east of Seattle. Where, in respect to Seattle, did the incident take place?

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

@Big Mike -
Yes, my half lug GP100 would be handier have, but the SP is easier to pack.

Ann Althouse said...

"What, no “ crash blossom” tag?"

Crash blossom refers to the specific problem of word compression in headlines that results in the confusion of verbs and nouns, e.g., "blossom" is read as a noun rather than a verb so you get a weird mental picture.

But, in any event, I did not create a separate tag for crash blossoms.

Virgil Hilts said...

When you can't carry a gun, take pepper / bear spray. Probably saved this guy's life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpB7jrJ7Zds
I think your chances of hitting the mountain lion with spray are better and they have such a strong sense of smell it should repulse them even if not a direct hit.
I carry pepper spray in a holster on my handle bars and it takes 2-3 seconds to pull, aim and shoot.

Big Mike said...

@Hammond, point taken, but don’t miss because you don’t have one to spare.

Michael K said...

When you can't carry a gun, take pepper / bear spray. Probably saved this guy's life.

Pretty good video.

I was in Banff some years ago when there had been a fatal grizzly attack on a camper. I was talking to the ranger who told me a couple of newspaper guys showed up the day after the report. A reporter and a photographer.

The rangers told them the bear had not been found and the trail was not safe. They left anyway.

He said they were adults and he could not order them to stay away.

The bear got both of them. I guess they didn't have bear spray.

Hagar said...

AA, don't go bicycling in the woods!

Marc said...

"'This is the second fatality in Washington in the last 94 years, but it’s one too many,' he said."

I'm guessing that Mr Beausoleil did not in fact want to suggest that one of those deaths was welcome.

David-2 said...

@Michael K - They probably forgot to tie little bells to their shoes.

Yancey Ward said...

Bike with a braver man is the lesson here.

Ralph L said...

Or slower.

Anonymous said...

"Caldwell Titcomb IV said...

"'Euthanized' is the wrong word for 'shot to death.'"

Callback to the thread about using nitrogen for executions. As I recall, a lot of people argued that a shot to the head is a fairly humane method of execution, and I would tend to agree. Of course, is isn't clear that the people who shot the mountain lion used a clean shot to the head.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

Just kiss your ass goodbye.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hayden said...

"@Bruce, I was writing for folks who don't know much about guns and are at risk of buying one and then showing up at a range to practice (with or without an instructor). There are plenty of YouTube videos where some nitwit has coaxed his girlfriend into shooting a gun that's too powerful for her and knocking her over. I think you will concede my point that if you are only going to buy one gun, and work your way from a lighter to a heavier caliber, that a revolver is best? And I will concede your point that semis have it all over revolvers when it comes to cyclic rate of fire, capacity, and concealability. I might mention that I've handled a Kahr and a Glock and guns don't come lighter in weight."

No problem.

"But with a semiautomatic one does need to learn how to clear a jam -- in my defensive shooting class only I, with my revolver, and the guy with the Glock did not have a jam on the range."

Actually get some jams with a G17. It is one of the guns that I shoot most every week, and I use non-Glock magazines for target shooting, keeping the factory mags for self defense, etc. The problem is that they can wear out. I have better than a half dozen after-market mags for that gun, and the half that are MagPul are fine. The others not so much. But that is fine - I get practice clearing a jam in a non-critical situation.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

Maybe the cat punished him for running away and leaving his friend to die.