Washington victims of 'emaciated' US cougar named

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image captionWildlife officials found the cougar on top of the victim's body

Two victims from a deadly cougar attack in the north-western US state of Washington have been identified.

SJ Brooks, 32, was killed and Isaac Sederbaum, 31, was seriously injured by the mountain lion on Sunday.

Officials said the big cat was "emaciated" when it pounced on the cyclists in North Bend, 30 miles (50km) from Seattle.

It was the second fatal cougar attack in the state in 100 years. Cougars are a protected species there.

Captain Alan Myers, from the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife police, told the Seattle Times the animal was a 100lb (45kg) male cougar around three years old.

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image captionSJ Brooks (left), was killed in the mountain lion attack and his friend Isaac Sederbaum (right) survived with severe injuries

"It was skinnier than normal," Capt Myers said.

Three-year-old cougars usually weigh 140lb or more, according to the state's wildlife agency.

Wildlife officials said veterinarians at Washington State University are examining the cougar's brain to determine why it attacked.

The cougar was on top of Mr Brooks' body when authorities found the animal.

The victim had been severely mauled, sustaining injuries to his legs, head, face and neck, Capt Myers said.

media captionMountain lion roams California backyards

Officials found the cougar on top of Mr Brooks' body near the gravel road.

The animal ran off, and authorities used dogs to track it. They shot and killed the cougar.

When the two cyclists first encountered the cougar, they attempted to scare the animal off by making noise and swinging a bike at it - which is what wildlife officials recommend - but the animal persisted.

After stalking them on the road, the cougar attacked Mr Sederbaum.

Capt Myers said Mr Sederbaum "had his whole entire head in the jaws of this animal and was being shaken around horribly".

But when Mr Brooks ran into the woods the animal dropped Mr Sederbaum and gave chase.

"You are in a flight or fight situation - you are going to want to flee and it's completely natural but it triggers a chase response in a cougar," Capt Myers told the Seattle Times.

Mr Sederbaum's injuries - including bites to his head, neck and face - required surgery.

Susan Gregg, spokeswoman for Harborview Medical Center, told the newspaper he is now in a satisfactory condition.

Cougars are the fourth largest cat species in the world, but they rarely attack humans.

However, there have been more cougar attacks over the past 20 years than in the last 80, according to wildlife officials.

There are around 2,000 cougars in the state, according to estimates by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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