A 70-year-old Utah hiker fights off a mountain lion with a rock in ambush

Mountain lion prowling on beach
The 70-year-old Utah hiker was walking in a canyon when he was attacked and knocked downhill by a mountain lion (Image credit: Getty)

A 70-year-old Utah hiker has survived a mountain lion attack in a Utah canyon with only scratches and bruises after being attacked while walking in a canyon.

KUTV reports that Evan Ray Nilsen was hiking in Diamond Fork Canyon, southeast of Provo, when the mountain lion jumped out, hitting him from the side and knocking him down the hill.

“I kind of hunched up or folded up, and it come down around behind me. And I hit it with a rock – just with my hand with a rock – and it took off,” Nilsen told reporters, in a video which you can watch below, adding that the mountain lion’s claws caused some of his injuries, but the animal made no apparent attempt to bite him. He also revealed that he has seen seven mountain lions in the area so far in 2023. 

Other than the shock of the ambush, Nilsen reported he was feeling okay. In fact, he was able to drive to safety following the attack and take himself to the hospital, where he was treated for lacerations on his hands, arms and legs, whiplash and given shots for tetanus and rabies.

A representative for Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said that searches for the mountain lion so far had not yielded any results, and noted that mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Nilsen told reporters that the encounter wouldn’t prevent him from going hiking again in the area.

Mountain lion safety

Mountain lion sightings are extremely uncommon, but if you are hiking in mountain lion country and are confronted with one, you should never run and instead make noise, make yourself appear big, maintain eye contact and if needed, fight back. For more advice, see our guide on what to do if you meet a mountain lion, and wildlife safety: eight tips for unexpected encounters.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.