Late last week, local news agencies in central California reported that a man had apparently killed a mountain lion with his bare hands after being attacked on a hiking trip. Robin Olson of San Luis Obispo, who claimed to be a former NCAA wrestler, said he was hiking near a Prefumo Canyon trail with his young son when they were ambushed by a cougar. Olson said he told his son to run, and moved to block the cougar when it lunged after him. Olson told reporters that he struggled with the large cat and ultimately secured a hold on the animal’s neck, breaking it and killing the mountain lion instantly. Olson was only left with light scratches from the attack.

A feat that would have made Heracles green with envy, if only it was true. According to KSBY, who originally reported the story, Olson was questioned by officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). He later admitted that the story was a lie.

“It’s horrible, I mean, I love animals,” Olson originally said in the KSBY report. “I just happened to be in her space by accident.”

You can see the original interview with him below:

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Investigators have not clarified whether Olson and his son had actually met a mountain lion or if the entire scenario was fabricated. They have also offered no speculation on why Olson may have made up the story. Experts did note that the last thing small children should do when encountering a mountain lion is to run. Instead, adults are encouraged to stick close to their children or pick them up. Due to their smaller size, mountain lions are more likely to associate children with prey and running away will only trigger the cat’s instinctive urge to chase them.

According to the CDFW, there have been only 16 verified mountain lion attacks on humans in the state since 1890. However, of those, six were fatal.

“Statistically speaking, a person is one thousand times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion,” the department stated on its website. “That said, mountain lions are wild animals and, like any wildlife, can be dangerous. People who live in mountain lion habitat can take precautions to reduce their risk of encountering a mountain lion.”

If you do encounter a mountain lion, experts suggest facing the animal, making lots of noise and waving your hands to appear larger. If attacked, fight back.


Image from Eric Kilby on the flickr Creative Commons

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