DNA analysis by scientists at the University of California Davis has confirmed that the cougar euthanized by wildlife officials on May 19 was the same animal that attacked two bicyclists earlier that day near North Bend, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently announced.
WDFW Capt. Alan Myers said the laboratory analysis confirmed that DNA from animal hair found on one of the victims was identical to that contained in muscle tissue taken from the cougar.
The analysis was conducted by researchers at the genetics laboratory at the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Their report is available on WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/jul2518a.pdf.
Myers said the cougar was shot and killed by WDFW enforcement officers after it attacked the bicyclists, killing one of them, on a remote forest road in eastern King County. The officers found the cougar near the body of the dead cyclist.
“We were confident the animal euthanized at the scene was the same cougar involved in the attack but needed the DNA analysis to be certain,” Myers said in a press release.
A separate examination of the carcass, known as a necropsy, conducted by personnel from Washington State University’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, produced no findings to indicate why the cougar attacked the cyclists.
The cougar weighed 104 pounds and was estimated to be about three years old. The necropsy found no indication of rabies or other diseases that would pose a risk to humans.