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‘Extremely rare:’ Mountain biker mauled to death by cougar in Washington state; 2nd victim hurt

SEATTLE -- One man was pronounced dead at the scene and another was seriously hurt in a cougar attack in Washington state. The victims were mountain biking when the attack happened.

It happened near North Bend on Saturday, May 19.

"The animal was found very close, across a gully from where the victim was placed by the cougar," said Captain Alan Myers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Myers said the 100-pound male cougar was euthanized. He said the two friends were biking just before noon when the cougar suddenly appeared and started to chase them.

"They stopped. They did the right thing, made a lot of noise. One person was reported to have swung their bike at the animal and scared it off for a period of time," said Myers.

Myers said the two men were shaken by the encounter, and as they were getting ready to leave, the cougar returned and pounced on one man.

"At one point, that victim reported that his whole head was inside the jaws of this cougar and has the injuries to go along with that report," said Myers.

That victim, a 31-year-old man, was last listed in satisfactory condition at the hospital. Officials said he told them his friend ran into the woods while he was being attacked. The cougar let go of him and chased his friend. That man was later found dead after being mauled by the cougar.

“It’s extremely rare. In fact, this would be the second fatality of a cougar in Washington State in 100 years," said Myers.

The attack has surprised those who hike and bike in the area. They said it's common to see bears and the occasional mountain lion.

“I’m prepared for wildlife when I come up here. It’s always a risk factor -- so it won’t keep me away, but it’ll make me more alert," said John Sowatasky, hiker.

The area was closed for a few hours but reopened later Saturday afternoon.

Myers said the cougar was taken to a veterinarian, where a necropsy will be done to determine whether it had a disease or other medical condition that could've caused the attack.