Chelsea Bromley is a mother in British Columbia who fought off a mountain lion attacking her 7-year-old son at their home. Mountain lion sightings are common in Canada’s Lake Cowichan, but attacks are rare. Lake Cowichan is situated on Vancouver Island with roughly 3,000 inhabitants.
Zach Bromley was in the family’s backyard when the mountain lion attacked him. His sister, who was not attacked, later spotted a second mountain lion around the property’s yard.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Mountain Lion Came Into her Backyard
Chelsea Bromley was doing chores inside the house when she heard her son Zachery scuffling outside in the yard of the family’s home in Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island.
“I ran downstairs and I ran toward his voice. I turned the corner and saw this animal on my child,” she told CTV. “He was on the ground and the cougar was attached to his arm. I had a mom instinct, right? I just leaped on it and I tried to pry its mouth open.”
The mountain lion had pinned the boy to the ground, and clamped down on his arm. She grabbed the mountain lion by the mouth.
“I looked at him and I just thought, ‘Oh my god, my kid could die right before my eyes.’ All you think is, ‘What can you do? What can you do in your own physical strength?'” she said. “I’m so grateful for him to be alive.”
“I think any mom would do that. It’s that selfless love,” she said.
2. Bromley Prayed in Tongues as she Fought the Mountain Lion
“I knew that in my own power and in my own strength I wasn’t going to be able to pry its mouth open, so I started praying in tongues. I’m just crying out to the Lord,” she said. “Three sentences into me praying, it released and it ran away.”
Wild cats including cougars, mountain lions, and panthers have been known to fatally wound humans. Zach Bromley, whose father said was “pretty close to near death” escaped with only minor injuries. He was airlifted to the hospital and needed a few stitches. He then went to his grandmother’s for a break to rest and recover.
Bromley’s daughter spotted a second mountain lion after the attack. Despite several attacks in recent years, mountain lion attacks are considered rare in Vancouver Island. The mountain lions were emaciated and thought to be orphaned.
3. The Mountain Lions Were Likely Orphaned
Officials with the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service said they found two cougars, both juvenile males, about 20 yards away from the family’s home. They were both hungry and looking for food, according to the service, reports ABC News.
The mountain lions were small and in poor health. They were euthanized after the attack. A necropsy will be conducted to determine whether the mountain lions had suffered from disease or injury.
“The mom looked out from her deck and saw the cougar on top of him, and sprang into action,” Scott Norris, a sergeant with British Columbia Conservation Officer Service, told ABC News. “She grabbed the cougar and yanked it off her child.”
4. In February, a Colorado Man Strangled an Infant Cougar
31-year-old Travis Kauffman was jogging in Horseshoe Mountain Park when he heard rustling on the trail behind him.
“I stopped and turned,” he told KUNC radio, then realized that the sound had come from a mountain lion. The cat lunged, clamped its jaws on Kauffman’s wrist, and clawed at his face and neck, Kauffman said.
The cougar, which turned out to be a kitten, was emaciated and starved. Cougars typically leave their mothers to hunt for themselves at 18-months, but this cougar was on his own.
“Evidence shows that the hungrier an animal is, not just a mountain lion but other animals too, the more likely it is to hunt in a suburban area,” Mark Elbroch, director of the puma program at Panthera, a wild-cat conservation organization, told INSIDER.
5. Mountain Lion Attacks on Humans are Rare
Mountain lions, cougars, and panthers are all the same animal. The American lion’s scientific name is Puma concolor and is sometimes referred to as “the cat of many names.” The scientific name was changed from Felis concolor in recent decades, according to MountainLion.org. These big cats have origins in South America and are distinct from lions, who are found in Africa and were once in Greece, the Middle East, and northern India.
It was cougars, not their cousin mountain lions, however, who were officially declared extinct and removed from the endangered species list in 2018. Cougars are associated with the eastern US while mountain lions are in the west including, in the case of Chelsea Bromley and her son Zachary, British Columbia.
“The species, also known as pumas, are the genetic cousins of mountain lions in the Western United States and of Florida panthers, which are now found only in the Everglades,” according to Yale Environment 360, a publication of Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
Cougars were populous in eastern North America until European immigrants in the 1800s killed many of them to protect livestock and families, but Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, says eastern states “need large carnivores like cougars to keep the wild food web healthy,” because “[They] would curb deer overpopulation and tick-borne diseases that threaten human health.”
There are likely less than 30,000 mountain lions in the United States. Many are in severe danger of over-hunting and road kill, with humans being responsible for 3,000 mountain lion deaths per year.