Mountain lion chews off Cayucos man’s hand

August 11, 2015
Steven Weaver

Steven Weaver


A large mountain lion was spotted near the mauled body of a Cayucos man Saturday evening on Hang Glider Hill near Gilbert Avenue.

Shortly after 7 p.m., several of his neighbors watched Steven Weaver, 63, walking his dog. A few hours later, Weaver’s dog returned to Gilbert Avenue alone prompting several people to mount a search.

At about 10 p.m., the neighbors spotted Weaver’s body about a quarter of the way up the Hang Glider Hill Trail. As they approached, a large animal they suspect was a mountain lion ran off.

The searchers found Weaver face down in the dirt. A portion of one of his hands appeared to be chewed off.

While they waited for first responders, the men performed CPR. Nevertheless, the popular man known for playing Santa Claus was pronounced dead at the scene.

The San Luis Obispo County Coroner’s Office has not yet determined a cause of death and has scheduled an autopsy for Wednesday. Nevertheless, the coroner’s office does not believe a wild animal killed Weaver.

Neighbors, however, question why local agencies involved at the scene – the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, the Cayucos Fire Department and Cal Fire – have not warned the public about the mountain lion near their homes and the popular hiking trail.

“Thus far, there has been no media coverage of this unusual incident, nor have local neighbors been warned of a mountain lion sighting 150 feet from their homes,” one neighbor said. “I think this is a public safety issue and emergency services should be more transparent about such things.”

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Sounds like a little damage control on part of the authorities.

It is my understanding that there were multiple witnesses who put a large mountain lion in close proximity to the decedent.

For all we know the decedent could have been frightened and simply succumbed to a cardiac event at which point he was set upon by a wild animal.

But the real story is why the authorities didn’t contact the media with a public service announcement explaining Mr. Weaver’s suspicious death and commenting about what people should do if they encounter a predator such as a a mountain lion or coyote.

It’s also too early for authorities to determine that the injuries were post mortem and “highly inconsistent” with any that would be caused by a mountain lion as they don’t know at what point the predator was frightened away in relationship to when Mr. Weaver went to the ground.

They could easily determine what type of predator was involved by swabbing the bite wounds for DNA and I hope they will do so in order to determine if additional action is warranted.


You don’t seem to know much about mountain lions. Humans are in far greater danger from their own kind — human predators — than from all the beasts of the wild.




Mike, please run for mayor, the town needs you


QUOTING MIKE B: “It is my understanding that there were multiple witnesses who put a large mountain lion in close proximity to the decedent.”


Well, if the cougar was chewing on the deceased’s hand, it would have to be close to the body, no?

Just because a cougar was chewing on a dead man’s hand does not mean the cougar killed him. If the deceased died of natural causes and the death was still fresh, a cougar just might take advantage of the situation.

I’d just as soon my body, after my death, was eaten by a native wild animal. At least something positive would come of my death.

Kaiser Bill

“Neighbors, however, question why local agencies involved at the scene – the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, the Cayucos Fire Department and Cal Fire – have not warned the public about the mountain lion near their homes and the popular hiking trail.”

Cayucos is not the middle of Manhattan or San Francisco. Even parts of LA County have Mountain Lions. Use some common sense. The man walked his dog late in the evening, this is particularly when cougars are active. Condolences to his family but this is another sign that SLO County is still an area where predators are active. A man was also just killed in Yellowstone. Be careful and accept the risks of living close to wildlife if you choose to do so.


Again, nowhere in the news item is there a suggestion that the man was attacked by a mountain lion. If there happened to be a possum nibbling on his hand when he was discovered, would readers leap to the conclusion that he was attacked by a possum?

Actually, based on the responses here, the answer would be “yes”. Sorry I asked.


No matter what the actual facts are, the public should have been made aware of any potential danger. I would like to have information to chose whether or not to hike in a potentially dangerous situation. And, yes bad choice of headline.


There’s always a risk that if a person fell dead in the wilderness, that some opportunistic creature might claim a piece of fresh flesh. What’s so scary about that?


….this just in. There are scary creatures lurking in the night, EVERYWHERE! Anyone who lives on the Central Coast knows there are bears and lions in the foothills. Big Government is not your Nanny, accept the responsibility for you own safety.


He may have had a gun but the big cat disarmed him!


I live in Avila Beach near the bike trail. In the past 10 years or so, their have been mountain lions spotted near the trail several times. To protect the public, the state fish and game posts signs when mountain lions are spotted in the area to warn the public at the trail head. I do not ride my bike on the trail during those times.

The sheriff’s department is required by law to report an incident with a mountain lion to the state. This is regardless of whether the man was mauled by the lion before or after death. This is to protect the public. What do you bet they did not.

I can imagine the lawsuit if a second someone was mauled by the same lion and the county had not reported it. Because of the drought, lions are being more aggressive.

Jorge Estrada

If a person were to colapse dead and lay there awhile, ferel dogs would eat him. Maybe the lion was hungry and wanted to eat before the vultures?


Perhaps the most sane comment on this thread. Thank you.


This headline was mis-leading. He lost more than his hand.


Agreed. The photo of Mr. Weaver caused me to believe he is still alive, albeit with a mauled hand. Way surprised to see that he is deceased.


A prime example of a situation where the victim might have been well served by being allowed to legally carry a concealed firearm.


No, this is not the place to lobby about gun laws, ammunition laws, guns on trains or to personally attack multiple commenters about “anti-gun bigotry” or how ignorant you may think people are, people you don’t know.


Did you read the story? It doesn’t say anything about an attack. It sure reads like he died and the animal was seen chewing on his hand 3 hours later.

I’ve hiked around here for 50 years and have never seen a mountain lion. Carrying a gun would be riskier than being attacked by a mountain lion. Do you think a mountain lion is going to walk up to you and tap you on your shoulder and say “I’m going to attack you, so you better get your loaded gun ready, and don’t forget the safety”? An attack would be so quick you wouldn’t have time to crap your pants. And if there was a struggle, you’d likely blow your nuts off before you could draw your weapon.


You simply don’t know that “Carrying a gun would be riskier than being attacked by a mountain lion.” That really boils down to your personal (and I would suggest prejudiced) opinion and shouldn’t be offered as a fact when it’s clearly not.

Your overly contrived attack scenario is neat and all, but it too is largely fantasy. There is a very good chance that the victim would have spotted/heard the cat before he was attacked. He might have been trained and well-practiced enough to bring his firearm to bear on the big cat far faster than someone like you realizes is possible.

It’s also quite possible his firearm would be designed with as a “safe action” (such as a Glock) and not be outfitted with a discrete safety which requires time to release.

Nice try but no sale.


My opinion is based on the number of gun accidents versus the number of mountain lion attacks in this area. Risk is determined by data. I am fine with well-trained gun owners being allowed to carry a concealed firearm – I am not anti gun at all. And I agree that a very well-trained and well-practiced individual might beat the odds and kill that animal. Myself and most hikers in this area don’t spend the time and effort to reach that level of experience.

Yes, my exaggerated fantasy scenario was meant for humor. You got me there.

But in the end, your original rant had nothing to do with the story. Doubt that a gun would have done him much good if he was in fact already dead from another cause.


Your opinion is based on non-compatible statistics — “the number of gun accidents versus the number of mountain lion attacks in this area.” That’s not risk analysis — that’s a nonsensical comparison.

How about comparing the number of gun-related accidents committed by people while defending themselves from attacks by mountain lions (in this area only) “versus the number of mountain lion attacks in this area.”

That comparison makes sense. Yours does not. Further, your “exaggerated fantasy scenario” was simply your attempt to sell your opinion.


Just to toss in my 2 cents here on both side of these posts and replies.

There is little to no chance that the person would have been able spot/hear the cat before he was attacked. Mountain lions/cougars etc… attack from above and behind. And they will stalk their prey long before attacking, in most cases that is. Sometimes it’s an act of opportunity but not very often with a cat. They are very smart and calculating.

Like was said, you will probably crap yourself first, before you can get your gun ready to fire. Carrying a gun might be a good idea. Carrying it concealed probably isn’t the smartest thing. Not because of the stupid CCW laws but because it can be harder to get into a shooting position when it is concealed. If you feel the need to carry a weapon, carry it in a holster where you can get at it quickly. Self defense 101. But there is also the other stupid laws regarding “open carry”. But that’s for a whole other debate.

This sure sounds like there was a medical incident involving this poor gentleman and the animal that was scared away was just taking advantage of the sad situation.

Best thoughts and wishes for his family and friends.


one weird trick to prevent a lion from devouring you,

wear a mask on the back of your head


Oh sure, now you want it to starve.

Won’t someone think of the kittens?


SamLouis, dude, you are seriously humor-challenged. Comment boards are a place for discussion, which implies an open mind.


You certainly don’t have an “open mind” when it comes to the use of firearms to aid in protecting oneself and one’s loved ones — that much is certain based on your comments.


It was not long ago almost everyone who walked the hills in the west was armed; either with a firearm, bow, or spear.

Humans have been fending off larger predators than mountain lions for a lot longer than crybabies have been worried about blowing their nuts off. Some of us don’t give up so easily…:)

As for mountain lions specifically, I’ve come across both those and black bears, they usually run off. Stalking behavior is usually dissuaded with a few big rocks, but occasionally someone will have to actually fight one.

Look at the actual attacks in CA. Most of these, except for the attacks on children, could have been stopped had the people been armed with something better than rocks-

Don’t let the facts get in the way of your agenda, though.


No agenda here,

I guess you’re talking to Sam Louis who posted that the deceased man “might have been well served by being allowed to legally carry a concealed firearm”.


Thanks for the link, it shows how low of a risk there is for a lion attack, and how much lower the risk is today, compared to the 19th Century, with California’s much larger population, many more wilderness users, and lower cat population. Yo’

re much more likely to be killed by an accidental firearm discharge.


How terribly sad. Sounds like there’s a large mountain lion in Cayucos in need of a lead/copper “supplement.”


Still using that illegal lead ammo, huh?


Lead ammo is not illegal in CA for self-defense purposes.


Really dumb statement. Did you read the story? 10 pm. That means it’s dark. “A large animal they suspect was a mountain lion” was observed in the dark! Who knows what it actually was. It could have been some rowdy dog, or who knows what. The guy was already dead, which means there was meat available — OK, gross, but true.

The fact of the matter is mountain lions seldom attack humans. Had he been walking his dog and a lion attacked, the lion would have taken down the dog, not the larger man. The fact the dog came home unharmed indicates there was no attack. Just something hungry that ate some dead meat. Heck, the chewing could have been a possum or coon. We just don’t know right now.

Your gun toting philosophy carries far larger risks than the likelihood of mountain lion attacks. But I guess in-Gun-I-trust will never understand that.


Unless losing a hand is life-threatening, there’s no evidence cited in the article that the fellow or his dog had been attacked by the lion.

But please don’t let the absence of evidence temper your gun-totin’ fantasies. Please entertain us some more.


Your anti-gun fetish is showing…


It’s only because you showed me yours first.


I’ll ask you also: Did you read the article? It is not believed he was killed by an animal. I get you don’t like cats….some personal problem? Heck, all the cats I know are better citizens than half the people around here…


Cats aren’t “citizens” in the world in which I live.


citizen: noun: an inhabitant of a particular town or city


I honestly hope you don’t believe that cats are “citizens.”