8-year-old survives cougar attack at Olympic National Park; animal stops when mother screams

8-year-old survives cougar attack at Olympic National Park; animal stops when mother screams

An 8-year-old child survived a cougar attack in Washington’s Olympic National Park Saturday after the child’s mother started screaming at the animal, causing the cougar to leave, officials said.

Around 6:30 p.m. local time, Olympic National Park officials were notified about a cougar attack at Lake Angeles, south of Port Angeles, Washington. When they arrived, park officials treated the child, who had minor injuries, and took the 8-year-old to a local hospital, National Park Service officials said in a news release Sunday.

“The cougar casually abandoned its attack after being yelled and screamed at by the child’s mother,” park officials said in the release. 

Park officials closed the Lake Angeles area and several nearby trails, including the Lake Angeles Trail, Heather Park Trail, Switchback Trail and the Klahhane Ridge Trail until further notice, Olympic National Park Wildlife Biologist Tom Kay said in the release. 

Cougar to be euthanized if located

Park law enforcement and wildlife personnel, who specialize in cougar tracking, were dispatched to the area Sunday around 5 a.m. If they find the cougar, park officials said the animal will be euthanized for a necropsy.

“This may provide clues as to why the animal attacked since cougars are rarely seen and attacks on humans are extraordinarily rare,” park officials said. “Olympic National Park has extensive protocols in place for wildlife observations, interactions and attacks and the lethal removal of this cougar is in line with these protocols.”

Olympic National Park is considered “cougar territory” and park officials recommend visitors “keep children within sight and close to adults,” park officials said.

What to do if you see a cougar

If you see a cougar, park officials said it’s important not to run, “because it could trigger the cougar’s attack instinct.” Instead, group together, appear as large as possible, keep your eyes on the animal, make a lot of noises and shout loudly, park officials said. 

“Throwing rocks or objects at the cougar is also recommended,” park officials said. 

Here’s what Olympic National Park officials recommend: 

Preventing an encounter:

  • Don’t hike or jog alone
  • Keep children within sight and close to you
  • Avoid dead animals
  • Keep a clean camp
  • Leave pets at home
  • Be alert to your surroundings
  • Use a walking stick

If you encounter a cougar:

  • Don’t run, it may trigger a cougar’s attack instinct
  • Stand and face it
  • Pick up children
  • Appear large, wave arms or jacket over your head
  • Do not approach, back away slowly
  • Keep eye contact

If a cougar is aggressive:

  • Don’t turn your back or take your eyes off it
  • Remain standing
  • Throw things
  • Shout loudly
  • Fight back aggressively

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