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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 13:46 GMT
Rogue mountain lion killed in US
US authorities have shot and killed a mountain lion after it attacked two female cyclists in California.

Officials from the Orange County Sheriff's Department hunted down the animal after it pounced on the women in the Whiting Ranch wilderness park.

It grabbed one of the women by her head and dragged her for 100 yards until it was scared off by other cyclists who threw stones at it.

The mountain lion was later tracked down close to the site of the attack.

Officials said that during the operation, they found the body of an unidentified man who appeared to have been the victim of an animal attack.

They said there would be a post-mortem examination to establish whether he had been killed by the mountain lion.

Critical condition

The hunt for the animal began after it attacked Ann Hjelle and Debi Nichols as they were cycling through the park on Thursday afternoon.

Ms Nichols told reporters that it jumped on her friend's back and started dragging her into the underbrush, but she held on to her friend's legs in an effort to free her.

"I just kept screaming," she said. "This guy would not let go. He had a hold of her face."

The mountain lion was finally driven off by other cyclists, but was later found hiding in the brush just 10 feet away by officials who cornered and killed it.

A medical spokesman said Ms Hjelle was in a critical condition at a local hospital following the attack.




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