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Runner Injured in Rare Cougar Attack After Encounter on Utah Trail: 'Claws Left Two Puncture Wounds'

Mountain lion in Utah
Mountain lion in Utah

Getty Images Mountain lion

A woman was injured by a cougar over the weekend while trail running with a friend in Utah.

A Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesperson told PEOPLE that the attack occurred on Sunday morning around 8:30 a.m. when a woman and her friend were running on the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon.

After turning a corner on the trail, the pair came across the cougar, which is also known by officials as a mountain lion.

"The woman tried to back away on the trail as the lion leaped at her, and she slipped and fell backward," Faith Heaton Jolley said in a statement. "The lion's claws left two puncture wounds in her right leg."

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According to the official, they were able to get away after the second woman threw a rock at the wild animal.

The cougar, which officials believe was likely started by their sudden appearance, did not chase them.

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Afterwards, the women were able to hike back down the trail and alert officials.

"The injured woman and her friend drove to a local medical facility where she was treated and later released," Jolley told PEOPLE. "The woman is in stable condition and the injuries were not life threatening."

After officials located the cougar, Jolley said the animal was euthanized, which is standard procedure when a human is attacked.

"It is always unfortunate when we have to euthanize any wildlife. Our biologists and law enforcement are very passionate about wildlife, which is why many of them dedicate their lives to careers researching and conserving Utah's wildlife and working to improve their habitats to sustain populations," the spokesperson said.

"However, we also value public safety and as the population of Utah grows, we recognize that there will be more people recreating and living in wildlife habitat areas where they will have encounters with wildlife like during Sunday's incident."

As a precaution, the cougar will also be tested for rabies.

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Jolley went on to emphasize that "it is rare for cougars to attack people."

"Our biologists feel the cougar was likely just startled and not seeking to prey on the woman," the spokesperson added.

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Following the incident, Utah officials shared a list of "important" safety tips on their social media.

In the event of encountering a cougar, officials say to immediately stop. "Never run from a cougar," officials warned.

Although it's important to "never approach" the animal, officials do recommend standing up tall, making "yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head" and to "talk firmly in a loud voice."

In the event that you're not able to back away slowly from the area, officials say to "fight back if you are attacked."

"If you are aggressive enough the cougar will probably flee," they advised.