Perhaps nowhere else is the term “safety in numbers” more apt than in the wild. Very few animals, from the cunning coyote to the massive mound of muscle that is a grizzly bear, will attack groups of humans without provocation. However, a pipeline crew operating 55 miles south of Grande Prairie, Alberta found out that there are exceptions to that “rule.” According to the Edmonton Journal, a mountain lion stalked and ambushed a crew of pipeline workers in a forested area on Friday, inflicting serious but non-life threatening injuries upon two men.
Stephen Campbell, 31, one of the victims, told Global News that it was the most terrifying experience of his life.
“I felt a weight on my back and I thought, initially, one of the boys was coming around to horse around,” Campbell said. “Then I felt the cougar bite into my skull and sink its claws into the sides of my face.”
Campbell credited the three other men on the pipeline crew for coming to his rescue, using bare fists and skid hooks in an attempt to get the 80-pound cat off of him. The animal’s initial attack nearly ended the pipeline worker’s life in an instant—a slash of the cat’s claws caught Campbell just above his throat on his chin. Subsequent biting nearly took his ear off and left multiple laceration marks on his face. Campbell was eventually able to throw the cougar to the ground, which gave the men enough time to lock themselves within the safety of their truck. When one of the men left the safety of the car to check if the animal had left, the mountain lion pounced on him and bit the man in the shoulder.
The crew then had no choice but to wait it out inside the truck. At one point, the cat even crawled underneath the vehicle’s trailer, where it stayed until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrived and euthanized the animal. Alberta Fish and Wildlife stated that it is currently investigating the incident, but can give no clues as to why the cougar decided to attack the pipeline crew. Wildlife experts say mountain lion attacks are rare, but not unheard of. The fact that this animal decided to attack not just one person, but several, is also troubling.
“It was stalking us,” Campbell confirmed in an interview.
The pipeline worker said that he might have been targeted because he was the smallest person on the crew. Campbell added that he has had trouble sleeping since the encounter, and will have to undergo reconstructive surgery on his ear.
You can watch an interview with the survivor below: