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VIDEO: Cougar follows man running near Provo for 6 minutes

Screen shot of a cougar following a man in Slate Canyon in Provo. Credit: Kyle Burgess on Instagram

PROVO– A Utah man was greeted by a mother cougar while jogging on a trail in Slate Canyon near Provo over the weekend. In an alarming video, jogger Kyle Burgess yells, “C’mon dude! I don’t feel like dying today!” at the cougar as she follows Burgess for six minutes. 

Burgess accidentally came across mountain lion cubs on the Slate Canyon trail. Before he knew it, the mother cougar began approaching Burgess. In the video, the cougar is seen and heard hissing and charging the lone trail runner.

“This is scary. My heart is racing. Dude, ok. This is not fun,” Burgess says on the video as the cougar growls. “Go away! Go away! Go back to your babies!”
 
In an interview with KSL Newsradio, Burgess said he has been trail-running for years, and he has been on the Slate Canyon Trail many times before.  He has seen the occasional bobcat, but, “This is the first time I have ever encountered a mountain lion.”

Burgess says he didn’t get the impression the cat was stalking him because she was hungry.  He was certain he had wandered close to her den and she was protecting her young.

“Right as I knew what she was, a cougar coming up on me, I decided I needed to get away from her babies.”

Burgess never had formal training for what to do in this kind of situation.  However, he says has seen a lot of YouTube videos about keeping yourself safe on the trails.  And he has spoken with hunters about what to do if he were to come across a dangerous animal.

“Don’t run away.  Be the bigger thing that’s out there,” he said they told him.

For six minutes, Burgess made himself look big, never turned his back, made loud noises, and eventually threw a rock at the cougar, causing her to run away. Burgess wasn’t certain he would live or die, but he was fairly certain he would be severely injured.

“They’re powerful animals,” he said. “They take down moose and take down other huge animals, so I’m pretty sure if she wanted to kill me, she could have.”

In the video it is evident that Burgess never tried to run or to ‘level with’ the cougar. And the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) advises doing exactly what Burgess did if you come into contact with a big cat. 
 
“He backed away,” said DWR public outreach manager Scott Root. “She let him know really well you need to get out of here. He did that, but he didn’t turn around and run, which is the right thing. He made lots of noise, and he didn’t crouch or do anything to look smaller, you want to look real big.”

Root said there are important lessons to be learned from this situation, but one outshines the others:  do not hike or jog alone.

“Just watching it [the video] makes your heart race a little bit. It is alarming, and it is a great reminder that we are not alone out there, especially in the foothills,” Root said. 

What to do when approached by a cougar 

The DWR states it’s important to know what to do if you ever come in contact with a cougar, especially if you’re an avid hiker or trail runner. They suggest that you: 

  • Stop. Never run from a cougar and do not approach the cougar
  • Maintain eye contact with the animal 
  • Stand up tall
  • Do not crouch or squat
  • Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head
  • Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly, and leave the area
  • Pick up children and pets or keep them very close
  • Fight back if you are attacked! Protect your head and neck

Wild Aware Utah also has information detailing how to protect yourself from a cougar. 

Warning for explicit language: you can watch the full 6-minute video on Instagram here.