Last weekend, a jogger in Utah had a nerve-wracking enconter with a cougar while on a well-defined trail near Provo in Slaate Canyon.
Video Account of the Ordeal
The jogger is Kyle Burgess, who made various attempts at shooing away the angry mother cougar and threatening her, hoping to dissuade her from following him.
He took a video with over six minutes of footage. In it, he is continuously heard yelling various threats and shouting nervously to the animal. He also made multiple hissing sounds and other commands, trying to dissuade the big cat from backing down and stop following him.
In his video, he is heard shouting: “Go away! I’m big and scary!” “You’re good, little kitty cat!” “What’s up dude! Nice and slow! Come on!”
He also said in a very nervous tone: “Go get your babies! I’m not gonna back down, I promise!” and “Come on, dude! I don’t feel like dying today!”
He also made shooing and growling sounds and even talked to himself, saying things like: “This is scary.” He was again swearing several times.
All the while, the cougar followed Burgess. The ordeal lasted for six minutes.
A Provoked Mother
Burgess first encountered cougar cubs as he was jogging at Slate Canyon trail. The video started as he was looking at the cubs playing on the track. After a while, before Burgess knew what was happening, the mother was already approaching him.
The mother followed him relentlessly, most of the time walking while maintaining a distance from Burgess, presumably to gauge the level of threat he posed. At times, the cougar is also seen menacing charging towards Burgess, hissing and showing her large claws. Fortunately, she never followed through with her mock attacks.
First Encounter with a Cougar
According to Burgess, he has run on the trail several times in the past years. While he has spotted bobcats on some occasions, this was his first encounter with a cougar.
He noted that the cat only seemed to be trying to protect her young, and not intending Burgess to be her next meal. Burgess says he wandered too close to the animal’s den where her cubs were.
When he saw the mother, he knew he had to move away from the cubs. Though he did not have any training on what to do in such situations, he has seen videos on YouTube regarding safety measures while on trails. He has also talked with hunters regarding how to deal with dangerous wildlife.
The hunters advised him not to run away, but to keep projecting himself as bigger. Thus, Burgess tried to make himself big and did not turn his back. Finally, while attempting to pick up a rock to throw at it, the cougar quickly ran away.
Advice from the Experts
According to Utah’s DWR or Division of Wildlife Resources, Burgess did the right thing by not running and not crouching. With this, he maintained his appearance as the bigger of the two.
Scott Root, public outreach manager of DWR, says that the most important thing to learn from the ordeal is not to jog or hike alone. Wild Aware Utah has guidelines on what to do when encountering such an animal. Western Wildlife Outreach also outlined tips on co-existing with cougars, to lessen the probability of having the experience that the Utah jogger had.
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