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Friday Catblogging: A Cougar in Utah

Anastasia Tsioulcas reports Man Escapes Cougar: ‘Dude, I Don’t Feel Like Dying Today’:

Twenty-six-year-old Kyle Burgess was on a 10-mile run on Saturday up Slate Canyon in Provo, Utah. He told the Deseret News that when he saw four cougar cubs on the trail, he took out his phone and started filming.

But when Burgess saw the young animals’ mother come along, he knew he was in trouble. For the next six minutes, he recorded their encounter.

The mother cougar followed him — hissing, growling and threatening — as Burgess backed away, keeping his eyes locked on her. Mostly, he alternated between yelling a stream of profanities at the mother mountain lion and calling the animal “dude.”

“Dude, you’re scary!” Burgess tells the animal at one point, adding: “You’re a (bleep) scary kitty cat.” A few minutes later, after she repeatedly lunges in Burgess’ direction, he says, “Come on, dude, I don’t feel like dying today.”

But see The cougar in that viral video looked scary, but experts say the runner was safe:

Burgess didn’t get close to the young, but his presence probably set mom off. “Mothers of any animal species become aggressive when protecting their young,” San Bernardino National Forest wildlife biologist Angelica Mendoza wrote in an email. “The lioness in the video was just trying to get the hiker (whom she considered a threat) as far away from her cubs as possible.”

The mountain lion immediately put herself between her young and Burgess and, early in the encounter, more than once looked back in the direction of the kittens because she was concerned about their safety, Riley said. 

Beth Schaefer, director of animal programs at the L.A. Zoo, called the mountain lion’s actions typical “escorting behavior” aimed at scaring Burgess. The pounces and jumps the lion made when Burgess bent over to grab a rock, called mock or bluff charges, are something big cats don’t do when they’re going in for a kill. 

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