British Columbia

Cougar kills mountain biker, injures another near Seattle

Washington State officials said it was only the second cougar-related fatality in the state in the last 94 years.

Death is Washington state's 2nd cougar-related fatality in the last 94 years

Washington state Fish and Wildlife Police leave the scene on a remote King County road near the site of a fatal cougar attack on Saturday in Washington state. One man was killed and another seriously injured when they encountered a cougar while mountain biking. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times via Associated Press)

A cougar attacked two friends on a morning mountain bike ride 48 kilometres east of Seattle on Saturday, killing one of the men and leaving the second hospitalized in what authorities described as a rare occurrence.

The cougar was later found up a tree near the dead man's body, where agents for the state's Fish and Wildlife police shot and killed it hours after the Saturday attack, the Seattle Times reported.

Neither man's name has been released.

The injured man was in satisfactory condition at a hospital. Authorities say the cougar initially attacked him before running away. Moments later, it returned with deadly results, authorities said.

The cougar, like this one, was later killed. (CBC)

"He jumped the first victim and attacked him,'' said Sgt. Ryan Abbott, of the King County Sheriff's Office.

"The second victim turned and started to run away. The cougar saw that and went after the second victim. The first victim saw his friend being pulled by the cougar. He got on his bike and started to bike away.''

The injured man rode for about 3.2 kilometres before getting cellphone coverage and calling 911.

Abbott said when rescuers arrived it took them about 30 minutes to locate the second victim, who was dead with the cougar standing on top of him.

"The deputies shot at him and spooked him, and he ran off,'' he said.

Cougar killed

It took several hours before authorities found the cougar up a tree and killed it. While the cougar was being hunted, rescuers had to wait to retrieve the dead man's body.

Rich Beausoleil, the state's bear and cougar specialist, said it was only the second fatality in the state in the last 94 years.

Cougars, also known as mountain lions and pumas, are a protected species. Each year, the state allows 250 cougars to be hunted and killed in 50 designated zones.