The victims of Saturday's horrendous cougar attack have been confirmed by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife police as 32-year-old S.J.Brooks, and injured friend Isaac Sederbaum, 31, both of Seattle.
The pair reportedly ran into the cougar whilst riding on a remote, dirt road near the popular trail area of Snoqualmie on Saturday morning. According to the Seattle Times, the pair had managed to face off the cat initially, as is recommended during encounters, by swinging their bikes and making noise. The animal appeared to have left, but circled around and pounced on Sederbaum. During the melee, Brooks attempted to flee, but inadvertently caught the cat's attention, initiating the fatal attack. Sederbaum was able to escape and cycled two miles to call for emergency assistance.
With the aid of dogs, emergency services tracked down both the cougar and Brooks, who by then was already deceased and had been partially concealed under a log. Officers shot the cougar.
Officials are investigating the animal's behaviour. Cougars are relatively common in the foothills of the mountains but attacks are incredibly rare; this is only the second fatal attack to take place in Washington since 1924. The cougar, which was described as emaciated and substantially lighter than a male of its age should be, was transported on Sunday to Washington State University in Pullman. There an investigation will be conducted into whether the cougar, a species generally considered secretive and aloof, was sick.
A truly tragic incident that has resulted in the loss of life of the mountain biker and animal alike. A sombre reminder to always be aware of your surroundings and to appreciate that we can often be riding in another animal's territory.
Our thoughts go out to S.J.Brook's family and friends.