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from The Washington Post

      Cougar Killed Skier in Canadian Park

The Associated Press Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2001; 7:44 p.m. EST

BANFF, Alberta A cougar stalked and killed a cross-country skier in Banff National Park, the park's warden said Wednesday.

The 30-year-old woman died Tuesday when attacked on a cross-country skiing trail near Lake Minnewanka, about six miles outside the town of Banff. Park officials found the cougar, also known as a mountain lion, over her body and shot it immediately.

"Indications were that the animal actually stalked the victim," said Ian Syme, the park's chief warden. "She may not even have been aware that this was taking place."

Syme said that cougar attacks on humans are extremely unusual, and that this fatal attack was a first for the province of Alberta, in which Banff is located.

Four or five cougars in the area had been coming in closer than usual to feed on elk because they were competing with a wolf pack that had settled nearby, he said.

He described the cougar that attacked the skier as healthy, about 132 pounds and well-muscled. An autopsy found no abnormality that might explain its unusual behavior.

Another cougar was involved in confrontations in the Banff area in recent days, including an incident in which the cougar approached a woman walking her dog, Syme said.

Park officials have warned Banff residents to keep pets inside, to walk only on streets and to take dogs out only on main roads in daylight hours. Hikers and cross-country skiers should travel in groups, they say.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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