A runner in Utah got more than he bargained for after running into a cougar and her cubs on a hiking trail in a video that is now being widely circulated on social media.
On Saturday, Kyle Burgess was on a run about 2 miles up Slate Canyon when he spotted four small animals scampering around on the trail up ahead.
Mistaking them for bobcats, he pulled out his cellphone and started recording. But, seconds later, a cougar came into view, and he realized he was in big trouble. In the viral clip, Burgess can be heard yelling out profanities at the wild cat as it continued to follow him for the longest six minutes of his life.
The 26-year-old tried to ward off the animal as he tries to retreat slowly, without turning his back to the agitated feline. He cursed, yelled, growled and grunted at the animal as it continued to follow him. "Go away! I'm big and scary!" Burgess says to the cougar in an attempt to scare the animal.
On at least three occasions, the mother cougar lunges and hisses at Burgess. "OK, this is when I (expletive) die," he says in the video. "Come on, dude. I don't feel like dying today." Finally, he throws a rock at the mountain lion and she runs away, leaving him relieved in the clear.
Mother was 'Escorting' Burgess Away from Her Cubs
In the moment, Burgess explained, he was struck by how "beautiful" the mother cougar was, but how "scary" it was to be followed, sensing she wanted to attack.
However, according to wildlife experts, the cougar was not "chasing" or "stalking" Burgess but was just ushering him away from her little ones. She is just trying to push him away because she perceived him to be a threat to her cubs and wants to make sure she gets him away from them. Her intention is not to kill him or hurt him.
As cougars are ambush predators, they do not stalk their victims but instead hide from their prey in dense cover. When the victim is close enough, the animal will pounce on it, usually clutching the jugular with their powerful jaws.
Burgess Followed All the Right Steps
Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) say Burgess dealt with the situation in the right manner in order to safely escape the mountain lion.
"He backed away. He didn't go toward the mountain lion or her kittens," Scott Root, DWR conservation outreach manager said. "He made a lot of noise. ... He stayed large, he stayed loud and he backed away from the area for quite a while. I think he did everything really well."