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    Cougar attacks 5 cyclists in Washington

    By Aliza Chasan,


    A cougar attacked a group of five cyclists on a trail in Washington on Saturday afternoon, sending a woman to the hospital, officials said.

    The bikers were on a trail northeast of Fall City, located about 25 miles east of Seattle, when they were attacked around 12:50 p.m. local time, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said. Officers with the department said they "removed one subadult cougar on arrival at the scene." Based on eyewitness testimony, officers said they believe there may be a second cougar, but it has not yet been located.

    Officials did not provide identifying information for the woman who was hospitalized, but they said she was in stable condition. They did not say if the other four bikers were injured in the attack.

    Cougars are rarely seen and attacks on humans are extraordinarily rare, the National Park Service said.

    Since 1924, state authorities have recorded around two dozen cougar-human encounters that resulted in a documented injury, including a deadly attack in 2018, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    In July 2023, an 8-year-old camper in Washington survived a cougar attack with minor injuries. The cougar "casually abandoned its attack" after the child's mother yelled at the animal, the National Park Service said at the time. A 9-year-old girl survived a cougar attack in Washington in 2022.

    Cougars are the largest members of the cat family found in Washington, with adult males weighing an average of 140 pounds. Adult females rarely weigh more than 110 pounds. They are most active from dusk until dawn.

    People who spot a cougar should not run because it may trigger the animal's attack instinct, experts say. Instead, people should group together to appear as large as possible and make lots of noise. If the cougar shows signs of aggression, such as baring its teeth and hissing, officials recommend shouting, waving your arms and throwing anything that you have available.

    "The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger," according to state Department of Fish and Wildlife guidelines.

    People who are attacked should aggressively fight back and try to stay on their feet.

    "Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach, including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing—even bare hands," according to state Department of Fish and Wildlife guidelines. "If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake."

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