A cougar that killed a cyclist and badly injured another had no obvious physical abnormalities and was not emaciated, according to an examination of the animal conducted by scientists at Washington State University.
The 3-year-old male cougar attacked the bicyclists on May 19 near Snoqualmie, Washington.
According to the necropsy report, which was released Monday, “the cause of the aggressive behavior reported in this cat was not evident on gross necropsy examination.”
Additionally, the report found the cougar was lean but not emaciated, contradicting what Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials initially said. The examination found no indication of rabies or other diseases, according to a WDFW news release.
The cougar killed S.J. Brooks, 32, of Seattle, and injured friend Isaac Sederbaum, 31, also of Seattle.
The two were mountain biking on a remote dirt road northeast of Snoqualmie. That’s when the cougar began stalking them. The bikers initially stood their ground, making noise and raising their bikes over their heads. The cougar retreated briefly but then approached them again and pounced on Sederbaum, grabbing him by the head. That’s when Brooks started to run. The cougar dropped Sederbaum and chased Brooks, ultimately killing him.
Although WDFW officials initially said the two bikers did everything right, they later acknowledged that Brooks shouldn’t have run the second time the cougar approached.
“That’s something we tell people not to do,” said Capt. Alan Myers, of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife police. “We try to teach people to overcome their basic instinct, but my goodness, who is going to fault you if you do that?”