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#29: Cougar Viral Video: Interview with Trail Runner Kyle Burgess

A week ago, I made a YouTube video in response to a cougar “attack/stalking” video that went viral. But what was missing from the cougar viral video is what actually happened. That’s where I came in to get to the truth.

In brief, the video shows a cougar advancing towards a hiker and at times VERY aggressively. There is good reason why the cougar (AKA mountain lion, puma) did this, which is what I explain in my YouTube video, but when the video went viral, this message was left out by the media and viewers who shared it.

As a wildlife biologist, it is so FRUSTRATING to see these videos go viral because they are often taken out of context and the animals frequently are the ones to suffer, which is why I felt compelled to make the video. 

A few days later though, I got a Facebook message from someone I didn’t know, a man named Kyle Burgess who introduced himself as the “cougar guy.” Yes, that cougar guy! He saw my video and was interested in working with me in some way to help spread positive messages about cougars, stating he learned a lot from this experience. 

I was happy to hear this and decided to take him up on this offer and asked him to join me on my podcast to have a chat about what happened, how to avoid situations like this in the future, and how to help cougars in the wild. 

I asked him LOTS of questions. Here’s what we went over:

  • Why did he record the video?
  • Why did he release the video?
  • What does he think people took away from the video?
  • Has he learned from this encounter? Would he do anything differently?
  • Would you have not recorded? Not approached?
  • Why didn’t he throw rocks? Or other things?
  • Did he think about the costs the mountain lion had to experience? How he impacted her?
  • Did he want to shoot to kill the cougar? Or just scare it?
  • Did he have any prior experiences with cougars?
  • How does he feel about the comments that say the cougar should be killed for doing this?
  • Does he have a cat?
  • What are the biggest misconceptions or errors in the media coverage of the encounter?
  • How has he taken the online reaction? 
  • A lot of people – at least in the wildlife/ecology field thought you screwed up. Did he?
  • Have he done anything to learn more about cougars and their threats?
  • Does still hike the same trail? Is he still scared?
  • What you should do in cougar country
  • and MORE!
Mountain lion viral video
Screenshots from Kyle's video of the mountain lion's aggressive display.

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Resources and Sources Mentioned in Cougar Viral Video

Kyle’s full original video:

What a big cat looks like when it is stalking to kill prey:

Video with more info on cougars:

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I understand that inbox can be a lot and I respect your decision. If there’s anything you’d like to share or discuss with me in the future, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Before we say our goodbye, I want to remind you that you have been an essential part of my journey. If there’s anything you’d like to share or discuss with me in the future, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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