Cyclist killed in cougar attack near Seattle

Second rider hospitalized after reportedly fending off cat

News
Mountain biker killed in cougar attack near Seattle

This is the approximate location of where the attack occurred.

A 32-year-old cyclist killed Saturday in a cougar attack east of Seattle has been identified as S.J. Brooks, 32, an avid rider who last fall founded a local chapter of Friends on Bikes.

A friend who was injured in the incident, Isaac Sederbaum, 31, remained in satisfactory condition after being hospitalized with injuries. Both victims are from Seattle.

According to a Seattle Times report, the cougar, estimated to be three or four years old and “emaciated” at 100 pounds, was treed and shot dead by wildlife authorities. DNA tests will be done for positive identification, but officials felt confident they got the right animal. Mountain lions are called cougars in the Pacific Northwest.

The riders were biking on an unpaved road in a remote area without cellular service near North Bend, half an hour east of Seattle, when they encountered the cougar. They made noise and thought they had scared the animal away.

But the cougar returned and jumped Sederbaum, who managed to fight off the cat despite his head being engulfed in its jaws. Brooks fled and the cougar chased after. Sederbaum decided to go for help and rode away.

The King County sheriff’s office said Sederbaum had to go 2 miles to pick up a cell signal and call 911. By the time authorities responded, Brooks was deceased. They chased the cat off with gunfire and used dogs to track it down. About five hours elapsed between the initial incident and when authorities killed the cougar.

The death marks Washington State’s first from a cougar attack in 94 years. Wildlife experts theorize that juvenile males who have lost parents to poaching or permit killing may not have learned to avoid humans, reported the Seattle Times. They also often have difficulty establishing territory in areas already occupied by adult males.

Washington State allows 250 cougars to be killed legally each year. The state population is kept stable at around 2,100 adult cats.

Mountain biker killed in cougar attack near Seattle

Mountain bikers gathered at the grand opening of the Raging River trail network, which is 5 miles from the site of the cougar attack.

News of the fatality gave pause to hundreds of mountain bikers celebrating the dedication of a new 17-mile trail network just 5 miles from the site of the attack. Yvonne Kraus, executive director of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, posted on Facebook, “It was a day of highs and lows.”

The MTBR crew extends our heartfelt condolences to friends and families of the victims.

State wildlife officials reiterated guidance on what to do in case of a mountain lion encounter:

  • Stop, stand tall and don’t run. Pick up small children if they are present. Don’t run. A cougar’s instinct is to chase
  • Do not approach the animal, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens
  • Try to appear larger than the cougar. Never take your eyes off the animal or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide
  • If the animal displays aggressive behavior, shout, wave your arms and throw rocks. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger
  • If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back

For further information check out these these reports from the Seattle Times and www.kiro7.com.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Paul Andrews

Dividing his time between Seattle and Santa Cruz, career journalist Paul Andrews has more than a quarter century of mountain biking under his belt, which he wishes had a few less notches.


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  • ka81 says:

    The other normal people extends our heartfelt condolences to friends and families of the SHOTTEN cougar.

  • Jim Gordon says:

    8 years ago I was riding this stretch of trail on an EZ ebike mid-day. I was 59 years old and 290 pounds and unarmed. I started hearing the loud crashing sound of a cougar bounding through the thick brush parallel to the rough gravel trail. I have just enough wilderness experience to know this should not be ignored even though I could not see the creature. Drawing on my experience with bears I laid on my ebike’s electric horn for about 100 yards which seemed to leave it behind. I never told the story much because I couldn’t prove what it was but now I wonder if I should have said something. There are some real remote wild stretches there where rail trails cut through wilderness.

  • Scotch Henessey says:

    It’s a shame on all avenues…although, we are on their turf at the end of the day. I wonder how many cats have watched me ride by in my Southern California trails over the last 30 years of riding. o:

    • JB says:

      I’ve often thought the same thing when hiking and riding in southern CO and northern NM.

    • myke says:

      @ Scotch Henessey i think about the same thing. events like this really strikes fear in you as a rider. but for some reason we keep going out.

  • Rusty Baillie says:

    Nitty Gritty:
    Is it time to start carrying quick draw Bear Spray……..like lots of places in Canada?

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