Cougar attacks Seattle couple, killing one


On May 19th, Sonja Brooks and Isaac Sederbaum were attacked by a mountain lion while biking on a dirt path near North Bend, Washington.

According to the Washington Post, the two attempted to scare the cougar away by making loud noises, and one of them even threw a bike at the cougar, but nothing worked.

The mountain lion had been following the two bikers before it jumped at Sederbaum, taking his head in its jaws and shaking him violently, according to The Post.

As Brooks rode off  her bike to seek help, she caught  the attention of the big cat whose instinct was to chase. The cat released Sederbaum, chased down Brooks. 

According to Washington Post, Brooks lost the fight against the cougar as the cat mauled her and dragged her body into the woods. Her body was later found in the cougar’s den with the cougar sitting on top of her. 

Sederbaum was taken to Harborview Medical Center and his condition was updated to satisfactory.

According the CNN, when officers located the cougar, they scared it off a gunshot and it ran off. Using search dogs, they were later able to locate the cougar and they euthanized it. There will be a necropsy to determine what factors influenced the cougar to do this attack.

“The state of the cougar hints at just how desperate (it) might have been,” said Bishop Blanchet teacher Molly McFarland, “his weight alone should suggest his desperation”.

According to Washington Post, after an examination of the lion, Alan Myers of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife found that the lion was a 3-4 year old male and only weighed about 100 pounds. This was odd because male mountain lions that age are normally 140-180 pounds.

It is unknown why the mountain lion would behave so violently against these men, but there is an investigation being done to search for the answers. The lion was taken to Washington State University in Pullman, where a necropsy will be performed by a veterinarian to see if the lion had a disease or anything wrong with it that would explain the reasoning behind the attack. Considering the abnormality of this attack, there is a high probability of there being a physical or mental factor that caused the cougar to attack. According to the Washington Post, it is very out of character for a cougar to return and attack after being scared off.

The rarity of cougar attacks in Washington, as well as the rest of the United States, cannot be understated. In the past hundred or so years, the amount of time in which the state of Fish and Wildlife have been tracking cougar attacks, there have only been 25 people in total who have been killed in the U.S. by cougar attacks. Of those previous 24 attacks only one person had been killed in the state of Washington; seven of all reported attacks in Washington occurred during the 1990s. A possible reason for the increasing attacks might be due to human encroachment into places in which they live.

“I assume the animal was desperate due to us moving into his natural habitat” said Bishop Blanchet teacher Lauren White.

The last attack that resulted in death in the state of Washington was documented in December of 1924, when thirteen year old Jimmie Fehlhaber died after trying to outrun a cougar. Since then there have been recorded incidences of cougars attacking humans, but never, until the latest attack, has a cougar killed a person since 1924. Due to this recent attack, however, it is important to know what to do in case you are faced with this situation, and how to appropriately prepare so you have the tools and knowledge to get out of this situation alive.

“This doesn’t deter me as a hiker whatsoever,” said Bishop Blanchet senior Lars Krokum. “ This is an isolated incident.”

According to Alan Myers from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, if you come across a cougar, don’t run — because the natural instinct of a cougar is to chase. Rather he suggests that authorities should advise people to keep eye contact and to try to appear larger and more intimidating.

“If the cougar attacks, fight back aggressively and try to stay on your feet,” said Myers. “Cougars have been driven away by people who fought back.”

This terrible attack that shocked everyone. They community hopes to find answers and peace from the results of the necropsy. The Wildlife Association reminds everyone to remain calm when in this situation, and to be aware of what to do if it occurs.