WDFW: Cougar that attacked mountain bikers had 'no abnormalities'

SEATTLE – After nearly two months, veterinarians have found nothing wrong with the cougar that attacked two mountain bikers this spring outside of North Bend. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said forensic tests of the animal found no abnormalities that might have contributed to its unusual behavior.

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In May, a cougar stalked then attacked two mountain bikers as they were riding on logging roads outside of North Bend. One bicyclist, S.J. Brooks, died in the attack. The other, Isaac Sederbaum, was injured.

Hours after the attack, authorities shot and killed a cougar that was near the victim's body. The cougar was then taken to Washington State University’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory College for examinations.

On Monday, WDFW wildlife veterinarian Dr. Kristin Mansfield said a necropsy and histopathology exam of the cougar found no evidence to indicate why the cougar attacked on May 19. Tests for rabies and canine distemper -- also lead and mercury -- came back negative.

The 3-year-old cougar was said to be emaciated and weighing only about 100 pounds when it was shot. A typical cougar of that age in the Cascade Mountain foothills would weigh 140 to 180 pounds. However, the report said the overall body condition of the cat was assessed as good based on adequate body fat stores.

Mansfield said wildlife managers are “highly confident” that they caught the right cougar involved in the attack, but WDFW is waiting for DNA confirmation. Those results are expected within the next month, Mansfield said.

The Washington State University’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory College carries out about a half-million such exams each year.

The last deadly cougar attack on a human in Washington state happened in 1924 to a teenage boy in Okanogan County. In the last century, there have been 15 attacks by cougars on humans in the state but none have been deadly, according to WDFW Captain Alan Myers.