• A cougar that stalked a man for six minutes on a hiking trail in Utah will not be hunted or relocated, according to a new report.
  • The cougar was protecting its young when it stalked hiker Kyle Burgess down the trail and performed threat displays to scare him off.
  • Burgess says he was in the cougar’s home and that it was only doing what it thought it had to do to protect its young.

When a video went viral earlier this week showing a cougar stalking a hiker in Utah it was a stark reminder that even escaping into nature during the coronavirus pandemic can have its own risks. Neither the hiker nor the big cat or its offspring was harmed during the encounter, but one big question remained: Would the cat, which showed aggression toward a human, face consequences?

It seems silly to even consider, especially when you remember that the cat is in its natural habitat and it was protecting its young when the hiker got too close. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that a predatory animal was hunted down in its own habitat after a run-in with a human. Thankfully, it looks like the cougar will be left alone to raise its young.

As TMZ reports, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources took swift action to investigate the area where the run-in took place. Some locals were worried that the cougar posed a threat to anyone in the area, and wildlife officials wanted to ensure that nobody was harmed as a result of the cat’s aggression.

The area was reportedly swept by rangers searching for the cat over several days. No trace of the cat or its young was found, and officials were satisfied that the threat had passed. A large volume of calls to the agency asking that the cat and its young not be harmed may have played into the agency’s decision to call off any further search, and it was abundantly clear from the video that the big cat wasn’t looking for a fight just for the fun of it, but was merely protecting its young.

That’s great news. Even Kyle Burgess, the man at the center of the saga, wished no harm to the cat despite the frightening encounter. He told TMZ that it was clear the cat was just acting out of its own maternal instincts to protect its offspring.

Rangers were prepared to tranquilize the cat if they had come across it, but that may have posed additional problems. The feline had at least a handful of cubs depending on her, so relocating the cat to a different area out of concern for the public may have doomed its offspring to death. Thankfully that won’t happen now, and the cat will be free to live its life wherever it ran off to after its encounter with Burgess.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.