It’s always nice to break the monotony of the daily routine by getting out into nature. The refreshing, cleansing vibes of the elements seem to erase all your woes and get you feeling tip-top in no time.
Whether it’s hiking, reading a book, or sunbathing, the activities are endless when it comes to the outdoors. Even if that includes coming to grips with a near-fatal mountain lion encounter. At least, that’s what one hiker in Utah experienced.
Kyle Burgess, a 26-year-old resident and avid hiker from Slate Canyon, Utah, was traversing his normal trail on October 8th, 2020. He suddenly stopped short when he noticed what looked like bobcats in the midst of the trail.
Things took a turn for the worse when Burgess noticed that those creatures were, in fact, baby cougars. In a blink of an eye, the mother lion popped out of the bushes and began to take a protective stance against Kyle.
“While I was running I saw little animals in the distance just thinking that they were bobcats. I see bobcats on this trail all the time and didn’t think much of it,” said Burgess in an interview.
Fearing for his life, the scared hiker began to curse profusely and take steps back in order to not cause any more stress on the mother cougar.
His attempt, though a valiant one, was not enough to keep the cougar at bay and so it decided to harass him even more.
The video kept rolling and it showed the nightmarish encounter get even deadlier when the cougar decided to continue its pursuit toward Kyle. This feisty momma was surely not taking any chances and wanted to ensure that her babies’ protection came first.
Although the video has now gone viral, wildlife experts are heavily criticizing those who tag this encounter as the cougar “stalking” Kyle as his prey.
John “Griff” Griffith, a local naturalist and guide for California State Parks, made sure to call out media organizations for an attempt to “sensationalize” the story as if the cougar was purposefully on the offensive against Burgess.
“You know what else is not true? Is all the headlines that were around the video saying that she was ‘stalking him’. I know a little something about mountain lions. That was not a mountain lion stalking. that was a momma mountain lion trying to get someone away from her cubs. There is a difference,” Griffith said.
In addition, Nicki Frey, a wildlife biologist from Utah State University who has seen the video more than a dozen times, agrees with Griffith and said, “She did not stalk him. If she was stalking him he would never have seen her. She’s just really trying to get him out of the area.”
The one thing that has puzzled experts is the fact that the exchange took roughly 6 minutes.
It is not something normal that a cougar protecting her babies would do.
“Doing that for 6 minutes is not normal behavior from the cougar. The only explanation that I have for that was her territory and she was walking him out of her area. I never heard of an animal taking that much time to get a human out of there, so that’s why I think she was just being a super mom and escorting him out,” Frey said.
Regardless, Kyle was very fortunate to not end up as a snack that day. He took the safety precaution of walking back slowly and never giving the mother lion his back, which earned him praise from the wildlife officials as proper steps to take when faced in this scenario.
If you do end up being attacked, wildlife resources advise fighting back and protecting your head and neck.
“It has been great to hear what the wildlife experts have to say about everything that went down because I am no expert interested what I felt like I needed to do at that moment,” Burgess said.
Next time you decide to go hiking, take an extra second to make sure you don’t alert a mother protecting her younglings.
Catch the video of the intense encounter below.
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