Mountain Lion Kills California Man, But Attacks In Wyoming Extremely Rare

A mountain lion attack in northern California on Saturday left one man dead and his brother severely maimed, but a Wyoming outfitter said such an attack is extremely unlikely here.

Mark Heinz

March 25, 20245 min read

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(Getty Images)

A mountain lion attacked two brothers who were hunting shed antlers in Northern California on Saturday, killing one and severely maiming the other, but mountain lion attacks are rare anywhere, and extremely unlikely in Wyoming.

Mountain lions are almost always solitary and generally don’t like being seen, Laramie-based hunting outfitter Shaymus Wyman told Cowboy State Daily on Monday while discussing the California attack.

Wyman has guided mountain lion hunts all over Wyoming and other states.

“I think I can count on one hand all the times I’ve seen a mountain lion when I didn’t have the hounds out on them,” he said.

Fatal Encounter

Taylen Robert Claude Brooks, 21, and Wyatt Jay Charles Brooks, 18, were hunting shed antlers in a remote area of El Dorado County, California, when they were attacked just after 1 p.m., according to reports.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call for help, and the mountain lion was still at the scene when they arrived. It fled when they fired their guns at it.

Taylen was pronounced dead at the scene, while Wyatt suffered severe facial injuries, was hospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries.

Wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife later found and killed the mountain lion, reported to have been a 90-pound male.

Wyoming Has Its Share Of Run-Ins

While mountain lions attacking humans is rare in Wyoming, there have been several close encounters with the big cats in the Cowboy State over the past 18 months.

During the harsh winter of 2022-2023, mountain lions were spotted in several towns and cities in Wyoming. Officials surmised that the big cats might have been following prey animals such as deer into urban areas.

In November 2022, a mountain lion had to be trapped and relocated to the mountains after it was found snoozing in a Cheyenne couple’s window well.

And in June 2023, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wardens had to trap and relocate another mountain lion that showed up in somebody’s yard in Laramie.

And in October 2023, a 15-pound terrier named Odin lost an eye in a tussle with a mountain lion on the front porch of a home in rural Crook County in northeast Wyoming.

Not Sure What Prompted Fatal Attack

Hunting-related social media sites, and the outdoors community in general, has been abuzz with talk of the attack, Wyman said, but there weren’t specific details available.

So, it was difficult for him to surmise what might have prompted the mountain lion to go after the two brothers. But the fatal attack was definitely well outside normal behavior for the big cats, he said.

Mountain lions typically do everything they can to avoid humans.

“They really don’t want to have anything to do with us,” he said.

On the rare occasions that mountain lions do attack it’s usually either an elderly cat or a very young one, Wyman said.

“My thought on it, it’s a really old cat that can’t hunt well because it had no teeth left, or a really young cat that mom kicked off too early, and it didn’t know how to hunt, so it attacked out of desperation,” he said.

Or, the mountain lion might have been ill, Wyman said.

“If there’s distemper going around out there, maybe that cat was just sick,” he said.

Banning Hunting Was A Mistake

As unlikely as the attack was in California, where mountain lion hunting is banned, such an incident would be even more unlikely in Wyoming, Wyman said.

Mountain lion hunting, usually done with hounds, is allowed here. And it’s not so much the fear of being hunted by humans that makes mountain lion attacks a near-impossibility here. It’s the fact that hunting keeps the mountain lion population down, he said.

Coupled with a large human population, banning mountain lion hunting likely set California up for trouble Wyman said.

“I think mountain lions are just getting so overpopulated in that part of the country. And then humans are encroaching on their territory too, so there’s going to be more conflict,” he said.

Release The Hounds

Because mountain lions are so secretive and elusive, they are generally thought to be all but impossible to hunt without hounds.

People who breed and train hounds to pursue lions, called houndsmen, will use their dogs to find, pursue and tree mountain lions.

In Wyoming, mountain lion hunting requires a license, is seasonal and regulated according to a “mortality quota” in each hunt area. That means that once a certain number of mountain lions are killed within that hunt area, the season shuts down there, regardless of whether it’s before season’s set closing date.

The Wyoming Legislature also passed a bill allowing for mountain lion “pursuit season” outside of regular hunting seasons. That means hunters can allow their hounds to pursue and tree mountain lions, but must back off and let the lion go rather than shooting it, as can be done during regular hunting seasons.

Wyman said that’s a good way to “let us get out there and work our dogs” during the off-season, so the dogs’ hunting skills stay sharp.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter