Cyclist Hospitalized After Washington State Cougar Attack

Cougar attacks are rare, but they do happen

A cougar (not this one) attacked several cyclists recently.
John Conrad/Getty Images

In the wild, cougar attacks on humans are very rare. One scientific study cited a figure of between four and six attacks per year throughout the United States and Canada, and a CNN article from 2018 noted that only two humans had died from cougar attacks over the course of a century in Washington State. Just because something is infrequent doesn’t mean that it never happens, though — and earlier this month, a group of cyclists found themselves under attack from a cougar.

As NPR’s Diba Mohtasham reports, five cyclists were making their way through the woods near Snoqualmie, a city in Washington State located to the east of Seattle, on a Saturday afternoon when the cougar struck. One of the cyclists was hospitalized, though her injuries did not put her life at risk. According to reports, one cougar was euthanized near where the attack took place, but there’s some ambiguity about whether or not it was the only cougar involved.

Lieutenant Erik Olson of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife praised the cyclists for their handling of the attack and its aftermath. “The people on scene took immediate action to render aid, and one of our officers was able to arrive within minutes to continue medical aid and coordinate transport,” Olson told NPR. “We may have had a very different outcome without their heroic efforts.”

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Cougars are generally believed to be solitary, making the speculation over the involvement of multiple cougars in this case that much more interesting. That said, it wouldn’t be unprecedented — in 2020, a surveillance camera documented a group of five cougars socializing. Perhaps there are a few things we don’t know about cougars — or perhaps they’ve opted to revise their habits.

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