Utah man, 70, survives cougar attack while on a solo hike

Apr 28, 2023, 7:48 PM | Updated: 8:59 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Ray Nielsen, 70, was hiking alone Thursday afternoon when he was blindsided by a mountain lion. After a brief struggle , Nielsen threw a rock at the animal and it ran away. The hiker was left with some lacerations but no bites.

“I kind of looked up and out of the corner of my eye, I could see it right there,” he told KSL TV.

Nielsen was in the Diamond Fork area in Spanish Fork Canyon when the cat attacked. He lost his phone somewhere along the way and turned back to find it and ended up having the personal encounter with the puma. He said if he didn’t lose his phone, he probably wouldn’t have been attacked.

“It couldn’t went way bad,” he said. “I’m feeling all right; I’m feeling OK.”

That’s even with the cuts on his arms.

“That’s where the claws got me, on this side.”

And his head when it hit him around his ear. He said it wasn’t very big but it was big enough to send him tumbling down a hill where he curled up. Then he grabbed a rock, hit it and it took off.

“I didn’t have my high blood pressure pills or anything. I hadn’t had breakfast, hadn’t had nothing. I was kind of passing out.”

But he managed to get back to his truck and drive home.

“My pants were ripped, I was all bloody. I had blood from … everything. I was really bleeding bad.”

At a hospital he was given shots for rabies and tetanus. Meanwhile Utah’s Department of Natural Resources searched for the lion, and by protocol they would euthanize a cougar that harms a person, but they never found it. Hikers and campers are warned to be extra careful.

DRN said it has exhausted the search, but they did find Nielsen’s phone.

“Got all my pictures on it,” he said. He is expected to fully recover and will likely be hiking the canyon soon.

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Utah man, 70, survives cougar attack while on a solo hike