PROVO – When Kyle Burgess was running about two miles above Slate Canyon on Saturday evening and seeing four little animals wandering the road in front of him, he didn’t realize what they were like in the beginning.
Thinking they were Bobcats (it wouldn’t be the first time he’s seen these), Burgess took out his phone and started recording. Seconds later, when their mom showed up, it dawned on him that he was in big trouble.
They were mountain lion cubs. And their mother would protect them at any cost.
The moment a mature mountain lion mom accused him, the adrenaline caught fire in Burgess. He unleashed a stream of profanity as he backed off. The cougar was diving into the trees along the side of the road, as if surrounding it.
It reappeared on the road. Her eyes closed on him, and she followed him as he pulled back.
What happened next was the longest six minutes of Burgess’s life.
The 26-year-old from Orem did everything he could think of to stave off the cougar mom. He knew not to turn his back on her. He knew to hold back – but not too quickly. He cursed, screamed, roared, and snorted as she kept following him, her teeth flashing in his face, her ears clenched, her tail hovering.
“Go! Go! Go!” Burgess screamed at her a minute after the videotaped meeting.
Burgess said that every time he took his eyes off her or tried to bend over to throw a stone, the mountain lion would dart toward him whistling. With each blow, her claws and front paws flared out. Her two strong hind legs kicked out dust and pebbles.
“No!” Barges screams at her. “Go away or go! I’m big and scary!”
She continues to follow him.
“you’re good!” Burgess shouted. “You’re a good little cat. … cute and slow. Come on.”
He pleads with her to turn back and “Go get your kids.”
It seems to never end. She would rush to him several times.
He says, “Well, that’s when I die (expletive).” “Come on, dude. I don’t feel like dying today.”
But Burgess, who recounted the terrifying encounter with reporters at the mouth of the Slate Canyon on Monday, escaped without a scratch.
After those six minutes of terror and pure adrenaline, Burgess is finally able to pick up a rock and throw it at the mountain lion. I nailed it, and that’s when I took off running back on the road.
“Wow, this just happened,” Burgess recalled thinking after she finally took off. “Honestly at the moment it still sounds like a dream.”
Burgess, who was on the verge of finishing a 10-mile ring when the Mountain Lion family happened to be, had to keep heading toward the Slate Canyon Trail, otherwise he would face the 7-mile return journey. So wait about 30 minutes before trying again, this time holding a stick and stone in his hand. At one point, some other hikers climbed the trail, and when he asked them if they had ever seen a mountain lion, they mocked him.
When he showed them the video recording on his phone, they realized he was not kidding.
On his way back, there was no sign of a cougar and her kittens. He escaped running unscathed.
He recounted how amazingly “beautiful” she was, but also how strong and “terrifying” the lioness was as he hung his eyes on her. He said his heart and mind are racing while he’s doing his best to avoid an attack. Burgess, during some of her powers, said that he was confident that she would attack, so he closed his eyes ready for the pain.
He said, “My feelings were a mixed mess.” “So it was kind of like …” K, well, it works one of two ways. What will be the result? “
Burgess is now dealing with the repercussions of posting a six-minute video on Instagram. The virus has spread. As of Monday afternoon, it has been viewed more than 240,000 times. His phone kept exploding along with notifications.
He said, “It’s crazy.”
Some viewers criticized him, and others praised him for being relatively calm and not running away. Utah Wildlife Resources Department officials had nothing but praise for him.
“You’ve done an amazing job,” Scott Root, DWR’s conservation outreach director for central Utah, told Burgess on Monday, as they met at the Slate Canyon trailhead. “You did a great job.”
Rote said DWR officers were notified of the confrontation late Saturday night and arrived in the area Sunday morning to search for mountain lions. But they never found it.
“I hope she has moved on,” Root said.
Root, who first saw Burgess’s video early Monday, said it was one of the most “emotional” and “terrifying” videos he had seen facing a mountain lion.
“Oh man, you just have to stare at this thing,” he said, describing how he “didn’t blink” while watching it. “Your heart is racing. I felt myself putting myself in place and (thinking), ‘What do I do? What can I do? ‘ And I know the steps, but what would the average person do? “
Root said that Burgess did almost everything right. “He retreated. He didn’t go towards the mountain lion or her kittens. He made a lot of noise. … He stayed big, stayed loud and walked away from the area for a long time. I think he did everything really well.”
The only suggestions Root made were not to track the run alone – and possibly carry the bear’s spray. He said mountain lions are also most active during dawn and dusk, so avoiding long walks during those times can reduce the chances of confrontation.
“In that case, with that mountain lion that she’s very protective of, as you can tell, I won’t take my eyes off it nor bow,” Root said. “You want to stay big and you want to still make a lot of noise. And that is what he did.”
“The second you drop it down to be less, that might trigger a reaction. Although I don’t think she was out to get it, she wanted to make sure he wasn’t in this area,” Root said.
Root said it was “not unusual” to have mountain lions in the foothills of Provo. But “very rare” to see a meeting. “They are very undercover and don’t want people to see them.”
Root said Burgess’s video is unlike anything he has ever seen in his 30 years of working for DWR – and said it would be excellent educational material. He hopes hikers and motorcyclists will learn from his experience.
“If you see a mountain lion or mountain lion kittens, stop and walk away from the area. If you find a dead deer, especially if it is covered in dirt, sticks, and the like, stop and walk away,” said Roth. “Because mountain lions would take a deer and kind of throw some plants and dirt and rocks on it, and they don’t go far too far, so that’s when you want to stay away.”
Utahns can learn more about what to do if you come across a cougar at wildawareutah.org. He said wildlife officials don’t want people to be “afraid” of the outdoors, but rather to be prepared if they have a once-in-a-lifetime encounter like Burgess.
He said, “It’s scary, but it is also helpful to remember that we are not alone there.” “It was scary, but I’m so happy he had a good ending. He did so well.”
Contribution: And raccoon