PROVO, Utah (NewsNation Now) — A man who had a close encounter with a cougar while hiking in Utah describes how he tried to ward off an attack.
Last Saturday, Kyle Burgess was followed by a cougar in Slate Canyon near Provo, a rural area with miles of trails for hikers and runners. Burgess recorded the encounter with the animal, which pounced towards him several times but never attacked.
The nerve-wracking encounter lasts six minutes before its abrupt conclusion after Burgess threw a rock at the cougar.
Burgess spoke with NewsNation Anchor Rob Nelson about his attempts to get the big cat to leave.
“Honestly, what I was playing through my head was like, well, I’ve got to make myself look big and scary,” Burgess said. “I say it in the video: ‘I’m big and scary, I’m big and scary.’ I’m kind of mentally preparing myself and that’s kind of what I did, while walking backwards.”
Burgess said that multiple experiences growing up taught him how to handle an encounter with a wild animal.
“Being here in Utah, we always go camping and we’re always kind of like, being outside. I was also in the Boy Scouts when I was a little kid,” he said. “And so, you’re always taught to be big and scary when you get into confrontations with these animals. And that’s kind of just what I did, and luckily it worked.”
Despite the terrifying standoff, Burgess said he isn’t deterred from returning to the trails.
“I’ll definitely go back out to the trails,” he said. “That’s what I love doing. I love being out in the mountains. I love going out backpacking, hiking, trail running.”