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  1. #1
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    Mountain lion deaths

    Hey all,

    I went to Cleveland National Forest last week and rode with some buddies because the Santa Rosa Plateau trails were washed out. My buddies dont seem to understand the importance of staying together (not anything too close) so that we can stay safe on the trail, especially from mountain lions. But also if someone falls, loses control and goes off a cliff, and stuff like that. Any suggestions on informing them of the real dangers mountain lions pose to lone riders?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    scream like a little biatch?

    Seriously, a whistle works pretty good, we have had issues at jpl. So now we stay together and if someone is missing we back track asap

  3. #3
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    I think the OP is asking for advice on how to get his friends to understand the dangers, not on how to inform them of an incident that has already occurred. I could be wrong, however.

    I would think that your friends are already well aware of the dangers, and have decided to ride lone star anyway. Beyond that, there’s not much else you can do. I would suggest finding a group that is more conducive to your needs. Otherwise, the group you are currently with might grow tired of the reality trip, regardless of how much common sense it entails.

  4. #4
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    You may find the following helpful:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Mountain lion deaths-cougar-safety.jpg  


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Clydesdale
    You may find the following helpful:
    ahhhh...the older cougar
    the trick is ENJOYING YOUR LIFE EACH DAY, don't waste them away wishing for better days

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by oceanfirehawk
    Hey all,

    I went to Cleveland National Forest last week and rode with some buddies because the Santa Rosa Plateau trails were washed out. My buddies dont seem to understand the importance of staying together (not anything too close) so that we can stay safe on the trail, especially from mountain lions. But also if someone falls, loses control and goes off a cliff, and stuff like that. Any suggestions on informing them of the real dangers mountain lions pose to lone riders?

    Thanks
    The danger is virtually nil. Driving to the trail head is far more dangerous. There have been 20 mountain lion attacks in California since 1890.

    http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html

    Just ride, I wouldn't worry about being eaten by a lion.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagaredama
    The danger is virtually nil. Driving to the trail head is far more dangerous. There have been 20 mountain lion attacks in California since 1890.

    http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html

    Just ride, I wouldn't worry about being eaten by a lion.
    I would totally agree - except for the fact that Mark Reynolds was my friend and mtn bike teammate. Hit kinda close to home. Maybe pass that onto your friends.

    Still, I would not worry much about adults on bikes alone. I won't let my kids get more than a hundred feet away from me in any open space park though. And when I'm riding solo in remote areas and get a "being watched" feeling, I start clearing my throat LOUDLY, make sure my bear bell is ringing, keep my eyes peeled and stay aware of any overhangs. In 21 years of mountain biking I've never seen a mountain lion.

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    +1 on what Robo SD has to say. I have been in the back country
    of SD for close to 50 years and have never even seen a mountain
    lion. Just ride and have a good time, no need to worry.

    Best, John

  10. #10
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    But they have seen you...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robo SD
    I would totally agree - except for the fact that Mark Reynolds was my friend and mtn bike teammate. Hit kinda close to home. Maybe pass that onto your friends.
    I get it but still. You have better odds of winning the lottery........twice than you do of being attacked, let alone killed by a mountain lion. it's a freak thing. You could also get struck by a meteorite while riding yet you're still riding. Not saying the death wasn't tragic at all, but in the grand scheme of probability, it's just not likely to happen again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robo SD
    In 21 years of mountain biking I've never seen a mountain lion.
    but they've seen you, I'd lay money on it.

    YR

  12. #12
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    I've ridden mountain bikes since 1984. I'd ridden road bike since the mid 70's and after getting the dirt bug did about a 50-50 mix until moving from L.A. to San Diego in late 1994.

    Sold and/or mothballed my (12spd) road bikes and have pretty much just ridden dirt since that time and 95% of the time I ride solo. I HAVE encountered a mountain lion while riding solo. Exact location is hard to pin down as Westview High School now sits there. The Del Mar Mesa Resource plan also notes mountain lions as a species detected within the preserve boundaries. So, I assume there's at least on out there still. I don't worry about it while riding. Compared to the hazards of riding on the road . . . pfhht I'll take my chances.

    The creepiest thing I've done was going for a solo hike in the tunnels at twilight. A jackrabbit on steroids flew out of the underbrush when I was like 5 ft from him and skeered the berjeebers out of me. It is the one and only jackrabbit I've seen in San Diego since moving here. He must have been visiting from out of town . . .

    That reminds me. Where I rode when up in LA was always littered with small rabbits running here and there. When I first moved to San Diego, I never saw rabbits on the trail. We had them in the planters at work. Just never saw them out in the open spaces. Something was keeping the population down. I see them all the time now though so does that indicate the encroachment of suburbia is changing the wildlife balance in the open spaces (reduced range, limited corridors for migration)? I think it does.

    The only animal that HAS attacked me while riding was an unleashed pooch. I was born in England and grew up playing soccer. Let's just say he had his kicks.

  13. #13
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    Personally, Im far more afraid of gray cougars you see at the local dive bar than any wild cat on the trail...

  14. #14
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    If you get attacked by a mountain lion during the day, then it probably wouldn't matter if you were with people or not, it was going to happen. That kitty wasn't right in the head.

    If you are concerned about it, don't do night rides and be back before dusk. I'd think that would keep you out of their active time.

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    [QUOTE=rodster]That reminds me. Where I rode when up in LA was always littered with small rabbits running here and there. When I first moved to San Diego, I never saw rabbits on the trail. We had them in the planters at work. Just never saw them out in the open spaces. Something was keeping the population down. I see them all the time now though so does that indicate the encroachment of suburbia is changing the wildlife balance in the open spaces (reduced range, limited corridors for migration)? I think it does.[QUOTE]

    Coyotes are probably keeping the population down. We have a crap-ton of them living within the city in the open spaces. There's a pack that lives in the canyon behind my house and I live in North Park. You don't have to worry about coyotes - they'll scurry off if they see you unless you're dragging a t-bone behind you.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob240z
    Coyotes are probably keeping the population down. We have a crap-ton of them living within the city in the open spaces. There's a pack that lives in the canyon behind my house and I live in North Park. You don't have to worry about coyotes - they'll scurry off if they see you unless you're dragging a t-bone behind you.
    Hawks get 'em too. I spooked a hawk on the trail near Cowles mtn (and almost soiled myself in the process), where it was feasting on fresh bunny.

  17. #17
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    if your friends want to stay back and be bait just let them they are doing it for the greater good and maybe take out a insurance policy so your group could buy new bikes they would want it that way

  18. #18
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    If you go online, as you are now, you can find the stories of Mark Reynolds and Anne Hjelle pretty easily. You can also find the details of the cougar attack in Cuyamaca State Park. That ought to be enough to reasonably inform your friends, and also to stabilize your legitimate concern below the level of unreasonable fear.

    The cats are out there and the attacks have been in habitat and times where their normal prey were scarce. That's not the current situation.

    I have seen a cougar on trail twice in San Diego, both times in groups of riders that were moving quietly when the cat crossed trail in front of us. The first was on the Del Mar Mesa in an area currently bulldozed, as the cat moved north from the main canyon into the beanfield areas, right at dusk. The second was on Milk Ranch Road in Cuyamaca, long before the fires, and the cat stopped to glare at us before sauntering off.

  19. #19
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    I've not seen a mountain lion in San Diego, but I did see a big bobcat years ago down by the SD river at Admiral Baker golf course.

    Last spring we hiked the first 100 miles of the PCT, and we saw some big cat tracks on the trail a few hundred yards from where we had camped one night.

  20. #20
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    WOW, to actually see a mountain lion/cougar in the wild would be bad ass! How often does that happen, well reading those post NEVER. I was riding with a friend about 15 years ago in Washington state a cross paths with a black bear, Now that was bad azz! I was a little shocked but once it was all said and done, I will never forget that moment and to see nature in the wild, will give you something to talk about with your friends over a beer. Just remember enter the forest enter the food chain.

    Don't have to be fast just faster than your friends

  21. #21
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    saw a mountain lion the other day for the first time when i was ahead of my buddies going uphill by myself. It ran off as soon as it saw me... guess im naturaly intimidating...
    Donít do drugs, donít have unprotected sex, donít be violent. Leave that to me.

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    I live and ride in Prescott, AZ which according to 2 patients that work for AZ Fish and Game is the highest population density of Cougars in the state. You might think Scottsdale, but you would be wrong(different type of Cougar down there), LOL!!!!!!!!! Seriously, I ride alone often in some pretty remote areas up here in the Mtns. My friend Bill, a ranger who worked for Prescott NF for like 30 years and just recently retired has always said; "they see you, you just don't see them". I have never seen one but have crossed verified tracks twice now. Back in 2006, at our AZ Spring Fling ride up here in Prescott NF we had a group of riders from SoCal/SanDiego area come join us for a ride. Stopping for water, I noticed a couple of the guys had daggers in a sheath on the straps of their hydration packs, they both talked about all the Lions in the areas they ride in SoCal and their frequent sightings. Seemed like a smart idea to carry something, they thought it was funny that they were riding in AZ's hotspot for Cats. Fun group to ride with, hope they make it out here again. Good post.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagaredama
    The danger is virtually nil. Driving to the trail head is far more dangerous. There have been 20 mountain lion attacks in California since 1890.

    http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html

    Just ride, I wouldn't worry about being eaten by a lion.
    Ditto - i ride skyline 3 days a week before work, solo, and have been doing so for a while. If you weigh the risks via all the data, the chances are very, very low. Unless you are a small guy on a small bike with hamburger smelling BO... for guys like this, stick to road.

  24. #24
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    so is there a thread or some information about what to do if you encounter a mountain lion/cougar? I mean the sign does help but what if I forgot condoms?

    (by the way the first one is a serious question)

  25. #25
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    I have invented a mountain lion defense system, feel free to use it if you are ascared of the mountain lions.

    (OK, I know its just rocks in a water bottle cage, but its better than nothin')
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Mountain lion deaths-mtliondefense.jpg  


  26. #26
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    lol. That mountain lion looks kinda scared.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by sponger
    lol. That mountain lion looks kinda scared.
    I think he looks puzzled ... like ... "hmm ... a Sette sticker on a Santa Cruz, I'm befuddled ... " ...

  28. #28
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    Hah! sharp eye reklar, I had that sticker on my bike as a joke but nobody noticed it so I took it off........now if I can just find a "Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash" sticker

  29. #29
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    Just got done reading the article today in the OC Reg by David Whiting. It was about Anne Hjelle, that lady who was attacked a few years ago in Whiting Ranch's Cactus trail. Pretty creepy stuff! "Hours before her attack the 122 lb beast had just killed and partial devoured a 35 yr old male mtb rider." Then Hjelle stated, "moments before the attack, something moved with such force that the air around her seemed to shudder."

    No more solo rides on that trail for me anymore ha ha, and I'm sure one or two of em have seen me and just decided not to waste any energy. But its scary how vulnerable you are if you really think about it.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocprerunner69
    Just got done reading the article today in the OC Reg by David Whiting. It was about Anne Hjelle, that lady who was attacked a few years ago in Whiting Ranch's Cactus trail. Pretty creepy stuff! "Hours before her attack the 122 lb beast had just killed and partial devoured a 35 yr old male mtb rider." Then Hjelle stated, "moments before the attack, something moved with such force that the air around her seemed to shudder."

    No more solo rides on that trail for me anymore ha ha, and I'm sure one or two of em have seen me and just decided not to waste any energy. But its scary how vulnerable you are if you really think about it.


    Old news......


    Don't be so paranoid.......eventually you will be too afraid to leave the house.
    I resolve to constantly assert my honest opinion on anything and everything - whether it is requested or not.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocprerunner69
    Just got done reading the article today in the OC Reg by David Whiting. It was about Anne Hjelle, that lady who was attacked a few years ago in Whiting Ranch's Cactus trail. Pretty creepy stuff! "Hours before her attack the 122 lb beast had just killed and partial devoured a 35 yr old male mtb rider." Then Hjelle stated, "moments before the attack, something moved with such force that the air around her seemed to shudder."

    No more solo rides on that trail for me anymore ha ha, and I'm sure one or two of em have seen me and just decided not to waste any energy. But its scary how vulnerable you are if you really think about it.
    It isn't exactly clear that Mark Reynolds was killed by the lion.


    From: http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html
    2004

    8 January. (Attacks #12 and 13; death #6) 35-year-old Mark Jeffrey Reynolds, an amateur mountain bike racer, was reported as being killed by a mountain lion sometime after 1:25 p.m. at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in southern Orange County. His bicycle was later found with the chain unbroken, but off the sprockets. Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, speculated that Mark was attacked as he was fixing his bike.

    However, the autopsy results apparently show no damage to his neck at all, or any damage indicative of an actual attack that caused his death.

    The speculation that fits the facts best is that Mark had a heart attack while riding his bike, fell off his bike, causing the chain to fall off the sprockets. The cougar then simply scavenged him while he was dead on the ground. Unfortunately, as is typically the case for lion feeding, the heart was missing, so we'll never know for sure if he did have a heart attack.

    Later the same day, Anne Hjelle, 30, of Santa Ana, a former Marine who works as a fitness instructor, was jumped by the same mountain lion. Anne was attacked a short distance down the trail from Mark's body, which was not visible to her, while she was riding her mountain bicycle. The lion jumped her from a slight rise (~4 feet) on the right hand side of the trail, from under some high brush. The lion quickly had Anne's face in its mouth, despite the presence of Anne's helmet. Her riding companion, Debi Nicholls, was about 30 feet behind Anne and witnessed the attack. Debi threw her bike at the mountain lion, to no avail, then grabbed Anne's legs and screamed as the lion dragged both of them 30 feet down the slope into the brush. The lion kept attacking Anne, alternating between her helmet, face and neck. The screams brought Nils Magnuson, 33, of Long Beach, and Mike Castellano to the scene, who called 911 and scared off the mountain lion by throwing rocks at it.

    Anne was airlifted to Mission Hospital. Her condition was initially critical, was upgraded from serious as of early 9 January, and to fair as of 10 January.

    Nils was nearby since he had just found Mark's bicycle, and was about to look for Mark. (Mountain bikers crash fairly frequently, so finding a crashed bicycle is not an unusual occurrence. It is customary to stop and render aid to crashees.) After this attack, Mark's body was found dead higher on the trail than where Anne was attacked. Mark had apparently been dead for some hours, and his body had been half-eaten and partially buried, typical of a mountain lion kill.

    Later that night, Sheriff's deputies shot and killed a healthy 3- to 4-year-old, 110-122 pound male lion, which was spotted 50 yards from the man's body. Initial tests found human skin tissue, and portions of a human lung and liver in the lion's stomach, which were confirmed later to match Mark's DNA. No fibers from Anne's clothing, nor any slivers from her helmet, were found in the initial examination, but later DNA tests matched Anne to the blood on one of the lion's claws. Curiously, no deer hairball was found in the lion.

    Also that night, about four miles north of these attacks, a second mountain lion, a 70 pound female, was hit by a car and killed. This lion was not involved in either attack.

    Although Whiting Ranch was closed for two days about a year earlier due to the sighting of a mountain lion and her two young cubs, the lion linked to the attacks could not have been one of those cubs, due to its age.

    Eric Sanderson reports that many deer frequent Whiting Ranch, so there was a plentiful supply of the normal food resource for a cougar. Eric routinely sees a couple of deer on each of his noontime rides.

    For readers not in Southern California, Whiting Ranch is in Orange County, 44 air miles southeast from the city of Los Angeles and 71 air miles north of the city of San Diego. More precisely, the park is between the city of Irvine and the Cleveland National Forest (Thomas Brothers Map #862, G5).

    Franko, of Franko's Maps, has kindly provided a map of Whiting Ranch on which I have plotted the location of the attack and of the killing of the cougar.

    Sources: an anonymous mountain biker (email of 2/3/04); Nils Magnuson (personal emails of 1/17/04 and 1/23/04), Eric Sanderson (personal emails of 1/10/04, 1/11/04, 1/16/04 and 1/26/04); L.A. Times, 1/27/04; 1/11/04 (online story); 1/10/04, A1, A19; an anonymous mountain bike rider (see below); Signon San Diego 1/9/04, 10:30 pm; L.A. Times 1/9/04, A1; CBS News / AP; KNBC-TV News Report, 11 pm, 1/8/04; L.A. Times; NBC News; secondhand private communications of the autopsy results.

    The following information was written before I learned about the autopsy results, and hence should be read with the possibility in mind that Mark died of a heart attack, not a cougar attack:

    The time of Mark's death is surprisingly uncertain. The initial report claimed he had been dead "many hours to many days", which was probably a result of the cougar partially burying the body (as pointed out by Eric Sanderson). After the body was identified, the time shifted to "noon". However a mountain bike rider (who prefers to remain anonymous) reported to me that he rode down the Cactus Hill Trail at 1:25 pm, as recorded by his bicycle computer. He talked with Nils afterward, and they both concluded that he would have seen Mark's bike if it had been there then. He has communicated this information to the coroner's office and other officials.

    Unfortunately, we still don't know for sure how Mark was attacked. Although the papers reported that the bicycle chain had "broken", Nils (personal communication 1/23/04) said that the chain was intact when he found Mark's bike, with the chain simply hanging off the sprockets.

    Thus it is possible that Mark's chain came off the sprockets, and he was bending down to put it back on when he was attacked. It certainly is plausible that he was attacked when he was in this position, and not easily able to defend himself after the initial lion attack.

    Alternatively, the lion could have jumped Mark in the same way Anne was jumped, with the chain coming off the sprockets during the ensuing melee.

    Nils Magnuson provides information that makes the second scenario more likely:

    The bike was standing upright, just to the right of the trail, facing slightly at an angle down the slope. On the down slope, the dirt was disrupted in two areas as if someone had taken two steps down. About 5 yards down was thick cactus. If you were standing, looking at the bike, very tall, thick bushes lined your backside.

    I could speculate many different attack scenarios. The only thing I found wrong with the bike was that the chain was off. Most people simply put the chain back on and spin the cranks once, not even setting the bike off to the side of the trail. As a matter of fact, where the bike was it would be hard to put the chain back on. One could speculate that maybe the bike was lying across the trail and that someone earlier had set the bike on the side of the trail. In any case, the spot where the bike was wasn't a good place to stop. It's really narrow. I would have gone either way on the trail, about 5 yards, before doing anything to my bike.

    The autopsy report might be able to distinguish between these two possibilities, but nothing has been released from the autopsy report that sheds any light on this.

    A very puzzling thing about this incident is the multiple attacks. No scenario seems compelling:

    * One possibility is that Anne was the first person to come by the kill afterwards, and the lion was "protecting" its kill by attacking anything that came close. However, this lion undoubtedly had seen many mountain bikers before, and I doubt it was going to keep attacking every biker that came by to "protect" its kill.

    * Another possibility is that the lion was still "hyped" from the previous attack, and was still in "attack mode" when the next biker, Anne, came by, who was then attacked. This possibility becomes more likely as the time of Mark's death gets later.

    * If Anne was not the first person to come by the kill afterwards, it is hard to explain why she was attacked and not anyone before her. The only explanation that comes to mind is that perhaps this mountain lion was still part of a family group, and decided to get another meal for others in that family group. (I doubt that this is normal mountain lion behavior, especially for a 3-year-old lion, but nothing seems very normal here.) Otherwise, it is hard to explain why another mountain lion was nearby, because the density of mountain lions is very low. In the entire Santa Ana range of about 10 miles by 30 miles, there are only about 20 mountain lions.

    In this scenario, perhaps the lion had rested for a while, and Anne's timing was just unfortunate.

    Speculations that the local mountain lion population was disturbed by the influx of outsiders from the San Diego County burn areas are unfounded. It is extremely unlikely that any mountain lions from the main burn areas in San Diego County migrated to Orange County, due to the following:

    * the distance involved (Whiting Ranch is 60-80 miles from the main burn areas);

    * most cougars who try to cross I-15 die (see Massive Concrete Mountain Lion Barrier Wall at Rainbow Creek on I-15); and

    * most of the wildlife survived the San Diego County fires, and is still hanging around at least the perimeter of the burn areas. For example, 10 of 11 radio-collared deer survived the fires in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, one of whom was later killed by a cougar. Undoubtedly, most of the cougars in the area survived as well and are still near that location.

    It is possible that the cougar density in Orange County was slightly increased after the Camp Pendleton fire, since that location is "only" 20-25 miles away. However, that fire burned only 6,892 acres, an utterly negligible amount compared to the 256,000 acres contained in an area 20 miles on a side.

    Mountain lions, like any predator, do not attack prey that can harm them for fun. Attacking any animal is risky business, and predators attack only the minimum number of the easiest targets they can find, due to the risk of injury to themselves. After all, if a predator becomes disabled for hunting for any period of time, they will starve to death.

    Of course, some animals do play with their victims, or even attack creatures that cannot harm them for fun. Domestic cats are the poster animals for such attacks. But I seriously doubt that most mountain lions are going to attack a deer or human for fun on a general basis, although one can never rule out such an attack by an unusual individual.

    I thank an anonymous reader with good insights who helped me speculate on the causes of this multiple attack.

    The speculation that Mark had a heart attack makes everything falls into place: the cougar attacked only a single human, to protect its food cache, and there is nothing unusual about the second attack anymore.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbikej
    Old news......


    Don't be so paranoid.......eventually you will be too afraid to leave the house.
    Lol not paranoid AT ALL, but thanks for your concern there biker J.... Just thought the story was interesting

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nagaredama
    It isn't exactly clear that Mark Reynolds was killed by the lion.


    From: http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html
    2004

    8 January. (Attacks #12 and 13; death #6) 35-year-old Mark Jeffrey Reynolds, an amateur mountain bike racer, was reported as being killed by a mountain lion sometime after 1:25 p.m. at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in southern Orange County. His bicycle was later found with the chain unbroken, but off the sprockets. Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, speculated that Mark was attacked as he was fixing his bike.

    However, the autopsy results apparently show no damage to his neck at all, or any damage indicative of an actual attack that caused his death.

    The speculation that fits the facts best is that Mark had a heart attack while riding his bike, fell off his bike, causing the chain to fall off the sprockets. The cougar then simply scavenged him while he was dead on the ground. Unfortunately, as is typically the case for lion feeding, the heart was missing, so we'll never know for sure if he did have a heart attack.

    Later the same day, Anne Hjelle, 30, of Santa Ana, a former Marine who works as a fitness instructor, was jumped by the same mountain lion. Anne was attacked a short distance down the trail from Mark's body, which was not visible to her, while she was riding her mountain bicycle. The lion jumped her from a slight rise (~4 feet) on the right hand side of the trail, from under some high brush. The lion quickly had Anne's face in its mouth, despite the presence of Anne's helmet. Her riding companion, Debi Nicholls, was about 30 feet behind Anne and witnessed the attack. Debi threw her bike at the mountain lion, to no avail, then grabbed Anne's legs and screamed as the lion dragged both of them 30 feet down the slope into the brush. The lion kept attacking Anne, alternating between her helmet, face and neck. The screams brought Nils Magnuson, 33, of Long Beach, and Mike Castellano to the scene, who called 911 and scared off the mountain lion by throwing rocks at it.

    Anne was airlifted to Mission Hospital. Her condition was initially critical, was upgraded from serious as of early 9 January, and to fair as of 10 January.

    Nils was nearby since he had just found Mark's bicycle, and was about to look for Mark. (Mountain bikers crash fairly frequently, so finding a crashed bicycle is not an unusual occurrence. It is customary to stop and render aid to crashees.) After this attack, Mark's body was found dead higher on the trail than where Anne was attacked. Mark had apparently been dead for some hours, and his body had been half-eaten and partially buried, typical of a mountain lion kill.

    Later that night, Sheriff's deputies shot and killed a healthy 3- to 4-year-old, 110-122 pound male lion, which was spotted 50 yards from the man's body. Initial tests found human skin tissue, and portions of a human lung and liver in the lion's stomach, which were confirmed later to match Mark's DNA. No fibers from Anne's clothing, nor any slivers from her helmet, were found in the initial examination, but later DNA tests matched Anne to the blood on one of the lion's claws. Curiously, no deer hairball was found in the lion.

    Also that night, about four miles north of these attacks, a second mountain lion, a 70 pound female, was hit by a car and killed. This lion was not involved in either attack.

    Although Whiting Ranch was closed for two days about a year earlier due to the sighting of a mountain lion and her two young cubs, the lion linked to the attacks could not have been one of those cubs, due to its age.

    Eric Sanderson reports that many deer frequent Whiting Ranch, so there was a plentiful supply of the normal food resource for a cougar. Eric routinely sees a couple of deer on each of his noontime rides.

    For readers not in Southern California, Whiting Ranch is in Orange County, 44 air miles southeast from the city of Los Angeles and 71 air miles north of the city of San Diego. More precisely, the park is between the city of Irvine and the Cleveland National Forest (Thomas Brothers Map #862, G5).

    Franko, of Franko's Maps, has kindly provided a map of Whiting Ranch on which I have plotted the location of the attack and of the killing of the cougar.

    Sources: an anonymous mountain biker (email of 2/3/04); Nils Magnuson (personal emails of 1/17/04 and 1/23/04), Eric Sanderson (personal emails of 1/10/04, 1/11/04, 1/16/04 and 1/26/04); L.A. Times, 1/27/04; 1/11/04 (online story); 1/10/04, A1, A19; an anonymous mountain bike rider (see below); Signon San Diego 1/9/04, 10:30 pm; L.A. Times 1/9/04, A1; CBS News / AP; KNBC-TV News Report, 11 pm, 1/8/04; L.A. Times; NBC News; secondhand private communications of the autopsy results.

    The following information was written before I learned about the autopsy results, and hence should be read with the possibility in mind that Mark died of a heart attack, not a cougar attack:

    The time of Mark's death is surprisingly uncertain. The initial report claimed he had been dead "many hours to many days", which was probably a result of the cougar partially burying the body (as pointed out by Eric Sanderson). After the body was identified, the time shifted to "noon". However a mountain bike rider (who prefers to remain anonymous) reported to me that he rode down the Cactus Hill Trail at 1:25 pm, as recorded by his bicycle computer. He talked with Nils afterward, and they both concluded that he would have seen Mark's bike if it had been there then. He has communicated this information to the coroner's office and other officials.

    Unfortunately, we still don't know for sure how Mark was attacked. Although the papers reported that the bicycle chain had "broken", Nils (personal communication 1/23/04) said that the chain was intact when he found Mark's bike, with the chain simply hanging off the sprockets.

    Thus it is possible that Mark's chain came off the sprockets, and he was bending down to put it back on when he was attacked. It certainly is plausible that he was attacked when he was in this position, and not easily able to defend himself after the initial lion attack.

    Alternatively, the lion could have jumped Mark in the same way Anne was jumped, with the chain coming off the sprockets during the ensuing melee.

    Nils Magnuson provides information that makes the second scenario more likely:

    The bike was standing upright, just to the right of the trail, facing slightly at an angle down the slope. On the down slope, the dirt was disrupted in two areas as if someone had taken two steps down. About 5 yards down was thick cactus. If you were standing, looking at the bike, very tall, thick bushes lined your backside.

    I could speculate many different attack scenarios. The only thing I found wrong with the bike was that the chain was off. Most people simply put the chain back on and spin the cranks once, not even setting the bike off to the side of the trail. As a matter of fact, where the bike was it would be hard to put the chain back on. One could speculate that maybe the bike was lying across the trail and that someone earlier had set the bike on the side of the trail. In any case, the spot where the bike was wasn't a good place to stop. It's really narrow. I would have gone either way on the trail, about 5 yards, before doing anything to my bike.

    The autopsy report might be able to distinguish between these two possibilities, but nothing has been released from the autopsy report that sheds any light on this.

    A very puzzling thing about this incident is the multiple attacks. No scenario seems compelling:

    * One possibility is that Anne was the first person to come by the kill afterwards, and the lion was "protecting" its kill by attacking anything that came close. However, this lion undoubtedly had seen many mountain bikers before, and I doubt it was going to keep attacking every biker that came by to "protect" its kill.

    * Another possibility is that the lion was still "hyped" from the previous attack, and was still in "attack mode" when the next biker, Anne, came by, who was then attacked. This possibility becomes more likely as the time of Mark's death gets later.

    * If Anne was not the first person to come by the kill afterwards, it is hard to explain why she was attacked and not anyone before her. The only explanation that comes to mind is that perhaps this mountain lion was still part of a family group, and decided to get another meal for others in that family group. (I doubt that this is normal mountain lion behavior, especially for a 3-year-old lion, but nothing seems very normal here.) Otherwise, it is hard to explain why another mountain lion was nearby, because the density of mountain lions is very low. In the entire Santa Ana range of about 10 miles by 30 miles, there are only about 20 mountain lions.

    In this scenario, perhaps the lion had rested for a while, and Anne's timing was just unfortunate.

    Speculations that the local mountain lion population was disturbed by the influx of outsiders from the San Diego County burn areas are unfounded. It is extremely unlikely that any mountain lions from the main burn areas in San Diego County migrated to Orange County, due to the following:

    * the distance involved (Whiting Ranch is 60-80 miles from the main burn areas);

    * most cougars who try to cross I-15 die (see Massive Concrete Mountain Lion Barrier Wall at Rainbow Creek on I-15); and

    * most of the wildlife survived the San Diego County fires, and is still hanging around at least the perimeter of the burn areas. For example, 10 of 11 radio-collared deer survived the fires in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, one of whom was later killed by a cougar. Undoubtedly, most of the cougars in the area survived as well and are still near that location.

    It is possible that the cougar density in Orange County was slightly increased after the Camp Pendleton fire, since that location is "only" 20-25 miles away. However, that fire burned only 6,892 acres, an utterly negligible amount compared to the 256,000 acres contained in an area 20 miles on a side.

    Mountain lions, like any predator, do not attack prey that can harm them for fun. Attacking any animal is risky business, and predators attack only the minimum number of the easiest targets they can find, due to the risk of injury to themselves. After all, if a predator becomes disabled for hunting for any period of time, they will starve to death.

    Of course, some animals do play with their victims, or even attack creatures that cannot harm them for fun. Domestic cats are the poster animals for such attacks. But I seriously doubt that most mountain lions are going to attack a deer or human for fun on a general basis, although one can never rule out such an attack by an unusual individual.

    I thank an anonymous reader with good insights who helped me speculate on the causes of this multiple attack.

    The speculation that Mark had a heart attack makes everything falls into place: the cougar attacked only a single human, to protect its food cache, and there is nothing unusual about the second attack anymore.
    Interesting... I never heard that part of the story about Reynolds

  34. #34
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    Anyone know if this is true?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nagaredama
    It isn't exactly clear that Mark Reynolds was killed by the lion.


    From: http://tchester.org/sgm/lists/lion_attacks_ca.html
    2004

    .........................
    However, the autopsy results apparently show no damage to his neck at all, or any damage indicative of an actual attack that caused his death.

    ......
    A couple of guys on the str board are pretty adamant that Reynolds was killed by the lion and the autopsy story is a lie put out on the internet by animal rights group.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    A couple of guys on the str board are pretty adamant that Reynolds was killed by the lion and the autopsy story is a lie put out on the internet by animal rights group.
    OMG, yeah, guy is 35 years old, JRA and has a heart attack and dies??? From what I understood about this he was descending at the time also yes?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by wisedog
    Hah! sharp eye reklar, I had that sticker on my bike as a joke but nobody noticed it so I took it off........now if I can just find a "Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash" sticker
    Love it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by reklar
    OMG, yeah, guy is 35 years old, JRA and has a heart attack and dies??? From what I understood about this he was descending at the time also yes?
    After Hank Gathers death (ya i'm old), young, fit, division 1 scholarship athletes having heart attacks does not surprize me. When was the last time you wore a holter recorder or had a stress test done?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    After Hank Gathers death (ya i'm old), young, fit, division 1 scholarship athletes having heart attacks does not surprize me. When was the last time you wore a holter recorder or had a stress test done?
    Dude was playing in the fastest pace basketball system in the world in an NCAA D1 game. Compare to going DH on a mountain bike JRA. Not even close to a reasonable comparison.

    edit: He'd also been on heart medication! LOL

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by reklar
    Dude was playing in the fastest pace basketball system in the world in an NCAA D1 game. Compare to going DH on a mountain bike JRA. Not even close to a reasonable comparison.
    Hank was in his early 20's and he first collapsed doing free throws. There is no shuttle at Whiting, Reynolds may have collapsed after earning the dh or could have been on his way up.

    Dude do you know what autopsy report said? If no teeth marks on the neck or throat, i'd tend to believe the heart attack/scavenger theory.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    Hank was in his early 20's and he first collapsed doing free throws. There is no shuttle at Whiting, Reynolds may have collapsed after earning the dh or could have been on his way up.

    Dude do you know what autopsy report said? If no teeth marks on the neck or throat, i'd tend to believe the heart attack/scavenger theory.
    Dude, so despite no evidence for a heart attack, i.e. no heart to be found to examine you are willing to conclude that because of Hank Gathers this guy definitely died of a heart attack. Okie Dokie. The coroner's report is just pure speculation--no evidence!!!

    Sure, people keel over all the time--it just doesn't happen often (a) to fit people JRA or (b) with the person being eaten by a mountain lion within short periods of time of their incident. But believe what you wish. I mean, plenty of people believe in Count Chocula.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by reklar
    Dude, so despite no evidence for a heart attack, i.e. no heart to be found to examine you are willing to conclude that because of Hank Gathers this guy definitely died of a heart attack. Okie Dokie. The coroner's report is just pure speculation--no evidence!!!

    Sure, people keel over all the time--it just doesn't happen often (a) to fit people JRA or (b) with the person being eaten by a mountain lion within short periods of time of their incident. But believe what you wish. I mean, plenty of people believe in Count Chocula.
    All kidding aside, the evidence as we know it is as follows:

    a) Guy died mountain biking
    b) Guy was essentially eaten by a mountain lion to the point where his heart is no longer available for autopsy
    c) Woman was later attacked by same animal and her face was partially torn off

    Conclusion: Guy had heart attack??? Just doesn't seem like it is the simplest explanation and there's no evidence for it. That's just a hard sell, imo.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by reklar
    Dude, so despite no evidence for a heart attack, i.e. no heart to be found to examine you are willing to conclude that because of Hank Gathers this guy definitely died of a heart attack. Okie Dokie. The coroner's report is just pure speculation--no evidence!!!

    Sure, people keel over all the time--it just doesn't happen often (a) to fit people JRA or (b) with the person being eaten by a mountain lion within short periods of time of their incident. But believe what you wish. I mean, plenty of people believe in Count Chocula.
    No basing it on the 'kill', generally they do a throat kill to cut off the air way somehow (like the Siegfried & Roy's attack). If the throat, neck, and face have no teeth marks, then yes i will believe the heart attack theory, if it turns out there are teeth marks in those areas then i think tchester.org is just animal rights kooks trying to spread misinformation.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratt
    A couple of guys on the str board are pretty adamant that Reynolds was killed by the lion and the autopsy story is a lie put out on the internet by animal rights group.
    ...because Orange County is the hot bed of animal rights activism.

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    I ride solo in the Santa Monica's quite a bit. The fact there are mountain lions roaming the mountains has never prevented me from riding by myself. If their habitat ever becomes significantly reduced or their food supply becomes depleted I might think twice about it, but right now it seems to be okay. Plus, if that ever does happen and they begin interacting with people they will likely be removed or killed if they begin attacking. Some interesting data about the lions:
    http://laist.com/2009/06/10/map_wher..._the_santa.php

    Since the article above was written one more has been tagged.
    http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com...ets-boost-new-

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