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70-Year-Old Utah Man Uses Rock to Defend Against Cougar Attack

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

70-Year-Old Utah Man Uses Rock to Defend Against Cougar Attack

Posted 2023-05-15  by  Stephanie Mallory

Evan Ray Nielsen suffered minor injuries on his arms, legs, and face

A 70-year-old Utah man escaped serious injury during a mountain lion attack by using a rock to fend off the big cat

According to, Evan Ray Nielsen was hiking in a grove of juniper trees in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon on Thursday afternoon when he realized he’d lost his phone on the trail and turned back to find it. That was when a cougar jumped at him and knocked him to the ground.

He said it wasn't very big, but it was big enough to send him tumbling down a hill. Nielsen found a rock on the ground and threw it at the cougar to scare it away.

Once the mountain lion left, Nielsen hiked back to his truck and drove himself out of the canyon. He was treated for lacerations on his arms and head at a nearby hospital, where he also received post-rabies-exposure treatment.

"It could've went way bad," he said. "I'm feeling all right. I'm feeling okay."

Utah wildlife conservation officers deployed K-9 units to look for the cougar, but have yet to find it, although they did find Nilsen’s cell phone, which he’d dropped before the encounter.

The division has placed new safety signage in the Diamond Fork area, advising that a mountain lion has been spotted in the area recently

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