Four Mountain Bikers Overpowered the Cougar That Nearly Killed Their Friend

“They were able to pin down a good-sized lion ... under a mountain bike until we arrived”
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A snarling mountain lion leans on a fallen tree.
Wildlife agents euthanized the lion after the attack. Photo by dssimages / Adobe stock

A group of mountain bikers in Washington used their strength in numbers to thwart what could have been a fatal cougar attack on Saturday. In a response that a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officer hailed as “heroic,” four members of the group were able to fight off the attacking cougar. They used one of their mountain bikes to pin the cougar down until help arrived.

The victim was taken to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition on Saturday afternoon, where she received treatment for injuries to her face, neck, and jaw. She has since been released from the hospital, according to KOMO News.

“They 100 percent saved their friend’s life,” WDFW’s Sgt. Pace told KOMO. “They were able to pin down a good-sized lion with its claws and teeth and everything else under a mountain bike until we arrived.”

The attack occurred on the Tokul Creek trail system near Fall City, which lies northwest of Snoqualmie in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The five mountain bikers were riding together on the trail when a mountain lion attacked a 60-year-old woman in the group. WDFW was notified of the attack at 12:48 p.m. on Saturday, according to a press release from the agency.

“It jumped from the side of the road and latched onto her and her friends were able to detach and fight this thing off,” Pace said.

A spokesperson with the King County Sherriff’s Office told the Seattle Times that the other cyclists were able to keep the lion pinned down with a mountain bike until a WDFW agent arrived. The wildlife officer then shot and killed the cougar, a young male that weighed 75 pounds. Eyewitnesses reported seeing another cougar nearby. WDFW agents searched the area with tracking hounds but were unable to locate a second cougar by nightfall.

Pace told KING News that the cyclists “just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” since mountain lions typically hunt along creeks like the one where Saturday’s attack took place. He said it’s also unsurprising that a younger lion was involved, as they’re more likely to prey on humans than older, mature lions. (WDFW is waiting for a tooth sample analysis to confirm the age of the cougar, but the agency reported that it was a sub-adult tom.)

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Although attacks by mountain lions on humans are rare, Washington has recorded a few of these incidents in recent years. In May 2022, a lion attacked a 9-year-old girl who was playing hide-and-go-seek at a church camp in eastern Washington. The victim survived but had to be airlifted to a hospital where she underwent surgery for wounds on her head and upper body.

The last fatal mountain lion attack to occur in Washington State took place in 2018. It involved two mountain bikers who were riding on a trail northeast of Snoqualmie.