Cougar that attacked mountain bikers was ’emaciated’

SEATTLE -- Authorities say the cougar that killed one mountain biker and injured a second Saturday outside North Bend, Washington was severely underweight.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police Capt. Alan Myers said Sunday that the cougar was about 100 pounds. A typical 3-year-old male cougar in the Cascade Mountain foothills would be 140 to 180 pounds.

Several hours after the attack, WDFW agents used dogs to track the cougar to a nearby tree where they shot and killed it.

The carcass of the cougar was transported to Washington State University in Pullman, where a veterinarian will conduct a brain necropsy to determine why the animal was underweight, reports The Seattle Times.

"They [the cyclists] did everything they were supposed to do," King County sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Abbott said Sunday. "But something was wrong with this cougar."

Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare.

While they are sometimes known to kill livestock or pets, the attack Saturday was the first fatal cougar attack in Washington in 94 years.

Authorities have confirmed the identities of the victims.

31-year-old Isaac “Izzy” Sederbaum of Seattle remained in satisfactory condition at a hospital after being bitten on the head.

32-year-old Sonja “SJ” Brooks, also of Seattle, was killed.

The timeline

Sederbaum and Brooks did what they were supposed to do when they noticed a mountain lion tailing them in the Cascade Mountain foothills 30 miles east of Seattle, Captain Alan Myers with the WDFW said.

They got off their bikes. They faced the beast, shouted and tried to spook it. After it charged, one even smacked the cougar with a bike, and it ran off.

But it wasn't enough.

When they got on their bikes again, the cougar returned, biting Sederbaum on the head and shaking it. That's when Brooks ran, King County sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Abbott said.

The 100-pound cougar dropped the first victim and pounced on Brooks, killing and dragging the biker back to what appeared to be its den, Abbott added.

After the cougar attacked Brooks, Sederbaum managed to get on a bike and ride off, looking back to see Brooks being dragged into the trees, Abbott said. Sederbaum rode for 2 miles before getting a cellphone signal to call 911.

When rescuers arrived, it took about half an hour to find Brooks, who was dead with the cougar on top of the 32-year-old. An officer shot at it, and it ran off. Several hours later, WDFW agents used dogs to track the cougar to a nearby tree where they shot and killed it.

Authorities plan to match DNA taken from the animal with DNA from the victims to be certain they killed the right cougar. They also plan to examine the cougar to see what might have been wrong with it.