An 8-year-old child is recovering after coming face-to-face with a cougar.
According to officials at Olympic National Park, the child was camping near Lake Angeles with family this past Saturday, when the mountain lion pounced. The child’s mother yelled and screamed, and the animal is said to “casually abandon” the attack.
Park rangers responded and were able to assess and stabilize the child. Fortunately, they only had minor injuries. Park Rangers escorted the family back to the trailhead so they could head to the hospital for further evaluation.
Olympic National Park has officially closed the Lake Angeles and Heather Park area and evacuated the remaining campers. For now, it will remain closed.
“Due to the extreme nature of this incident, we are closing the Lake Angeles area and several trails in the vicinity,” said Olympic National Park Wildlife Biologist Tom Kay in a press release. “Out of an abundance of caution, the Lake Angeles Trail, Heather Park Trail, Switchback Trail, and the entire Klahhane Ridge Trail are closed until further notice.”
On Sunday, a team of park law enforcement and wildlife officials specializing in cougar tracking began their search for the animal. They plan to euthanize the cougar if found and perform a necropsy to assess what provoked the attack.
NPS officials say mountain lion attacks are extremely rare, and the animal prefers to keep its distance, if not hidden from people.
Staying Safe in Cougar Country
Olympic National Park wants to remind visitors that the entire Washington State park is cougar country and to keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid hiking or jogging alone.
- Keep children within sight and close to adults.
- Leave pets at home.
- Remain alert of your surroundings.
- If you encounter a cougar, it is critical not to run as that could trigger the animal’s attack instinct. Instead, people should group together and appear as large as possible. Keep eyes on the animal and make lots of noise while throwing rocks at the cougar.
Check out Outdoors.com’s official guide to encountering mountain lions.