Girl Attacked by Cougar in Northeast Washington

An attack in Northeastern Washington is a reminder that we too, in the Snoqualmie Valley, share our space with the cougar, or Puma concolor, the second largest cat in the Americas behind the rare Jaguar and fourth-largest worldwide.

According to published reports, the 9-year-old girl attending a camp near Fruitland in Stevens County, Washington, was injured due to a cougar attack on Saturday morning, May 28. The girl was playing hide and seek with two friends a short distance from the camp in the woods and was attacked as she jumped up to surprise her friends.

Lily A. Kryzhanivskyy was transported to a hospital. She was released from the intensive care unit on Monday and is in stable condition. Her mother described Lily’s recovery so far as “amazing” and asked Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff to share that Lily wants people to know she was “very brave and tough” in the face of the attack.

“We are extremely thankful for this little girl’s resiliency, and we’re impressed with her spunk in the face of this unfortunate encounter,” said Capt. Mike Sprecher of the WDFW Police. “It happened fast, and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly.”

The young male cougar was killed at the scene Tests completed over the weekend showed the animal did not have rabies WDFW officers were at the camp throughout the weekend combing through the scene to understand how the events unfolded.

Cougar attacks on humans are rare. While they don’t happen often, cougar attacks can be serious. There have been two fatal attacks on humans in Washington state and, before this incident, 19 that resulted in injuries to humans in the past 100 years.

“Wild animals don’t care to be around humans any more than we want to have close encounters with them,” added Capt. Sprecher.

If you do encounter a cougar, never turn and run That can trigger a chase response Instead,

  • Make eye contact with the cougar and back away slowly.
  • If the animal approaches you, try to look as big as possible Stand on a rock and put your hands above your head.
  • Be assertive and yell, throw rocks or other items at it.
  • If it attacks, fight back, don’t play dead with cougars.

Children under the age of ten can be particularly vulnerable to cougars due to their small stature, exhibiting prey-like behavior & sounds, as well as being unable to launch a loud, aggressive response to an attack.

Of the 126 cougar attacks in North America in the last 100 years, more than half of the 27 fatalities were children under the age of 14.

Additional information about cougar safety and what you should do if you encounter one can be found at Cougar | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife WDFW advises that people hiking and recreating in the backcountry should carry bear spray as a precaution, which is also effective on cougars.

We live in cougar country and should know what to do in case of an encounter with these large cats. With a bit of caution and care, we can co-exist peacefully with all our local wildlife and preserve the way of life we cherish in the Snoqualmie Valley.

[If you’d like to help Lily’s family with her medical bills, click HERE for the go fund me]

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