Cougar kills US mountain biker, mauls another, later shot

NEW MEXICO (REUTERS) - A mountain lion killed one mountain biker and mauled another in Washington state on Saturday (May 19) when they rode into its territory, and authorities later shot the animal dead, police said.

The mountain bikers were riding together down a remote, backwoods trail in an area near North Bend, Washington state, around 48km east of Seattle, when the two men encountered the animal.

In the ensuing attack, the first rider received deep scratches and the other was dragged away by the cougar to its den, King County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ryan Abbot said.

The 31-year-old survivor rode out of the area and called 911.

Police drove up the trail, found the victim's bike and went into the woods where they came across the cougar standing over the victim's body, Sergeant Abbott said.

"He or she, I don't know if the cougar was a male or female, had the body of the victim down in his den," said Sergeant Abbott.

A deputy took a shot at the animal, sending it fleeing into the woods. Officers of the Washington Department of Fish and Game tracked the cat with dogs and killed it, Sergeant Abbott said.

The survivor was taken to hospital in Seattle with serious but none-life-threatening injuries, he said.

Fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare in North America, with only about two dozen recorded in the last 100 years, most of them involving children.

It was only the second deadly attack by a mountain lion in Washington State in the last 100 years, Sergeant Abbott said.

Cougars are the fourth largest cat species worldwide, with adult females weighing up to 64kg and males weighing as much as 100kg. They attack prey by ambush and usually attack humans only if cornered.

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