A cougar
© DreamstimeA cougar
A group of five cyclists were riding on a trail in Fall City, Wash., when they were attacked by at least one cougar this past weekend.

The incident occurred on Saturday around 12:30 p.m., according to the King County Sheriff's Office, in a wilderness area along Tokul Creek approximately five miles north of the city of Snoqualmie.

A 60-year-old female was hospitalized for non-life threatening injuries, but is in stable condition, according to a statement from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

"We are thankful that the victim is stable after the incident this weekend," said Lieutenant Erik Olson. "The people on scene took immediate action to render aid, and one of our officers was able to arrive within minutes to continue medical aid and coordinate transport. We may have had a very different outcome without their heroic efforts."

Officers euthanized and removed one young male 75-pound cougar on arrival, but eyewitnesses indicate there may have been a second cougar as well at the scene, said the statement. Officials were unable to find a second cougar that eye-witnesses said they saw on the scene.

Such attacks rarely end up fatal. In Washington state, there have only been two fatal cougar attacks and approximately 20 other recorded encounters that resulted in human injury in the last 100 years, according to the WDFW.

Cougars, a protected species and the largest members of the cat family in Washington, are "solitary and secretive animals rarely seen in the wild," reads a description of the mountain lion on the WDFW website. But sightings of them are on the rise in northeast Washington, according to a 2021 report by Northwest Public Broadcasting.

There are an estimated 3,600 cougars in Washington state as of 2022, says the WDFW.

If you do encounter a cougar in the wild, "you definitely want to show the animal that you are not prey. They are used to their prey running away," said bear and cougar specialist Richard A. Beausoleil in a 2018 interview with WBUR. "And so the very first thing is to stop, stand tall, make some noise, throw something at the animal if you can, but do not run."

If a cougar does attack, the WDFW suggests fighting back, as the cougar will flee if a person is aggressive enough.

"Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach, including sticks, rocks, shovels, backpacks, and clothing — even bare hands," reads their website.