A cougar attacked an 8-year-old child at Olympic National Park in Washington on Saturday. The child was camping with their family when the cougar jumped on them, as first reported by KING 5 News in Seattle. Their mother responded quickly by yelling at the cougar. Fortunately, the cougar quickly released the child and casually left the area. The child sustained minor injuries but was still evaluated by the local hospital. The popular camping area is closed until further notice.
Here is the official press release from the National Park Service:
“At 6:30 PM on Saturday, July 29, Olympic National Park was notified that an 8-year-old child was attacked by a cougar while camping at Lake Angeles, which is in the Heart O’ the Hills area south of Port Angeles. The cougar casually abandoned its attack after being yelled and screamed at by the child’s mother. Park personnel quickly responded and once the child’s medical condition was assessed and stabilized, the family was escorted back to the trailhead by park personnel. The child survived the attack with minor injuries and was taken to the local hospital for further evaluation. All remaining campers in the Lake Angeles area have been evacuated and access to the Lake Angeles and Heather Park areas are closed to the public until further notice.”
“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. “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.”
“At 5:00 AM on July 30, park law enforcement and wildlife personnel specializing in cougar tracking were dispatched to the cougar’s last known point at Lake Angeles. If the cougar is located, it will be euthanized and removed from the park 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. 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.”
“The entirety of Olympic National Park is considered cougar territory and it is important for visitors to be prepared for an encounter. It is recommended that visitors not hike or jog alone, and to keep children within sight and close to adults. Leave pets at home and be alert to your surroundings when hiking. If you meet a cougar, it is important to not run because it could trigger the cougar’s attack instinct. Instead, people should group together, appear as large as possible, keep eyes on the animal, make lots of noise and shout loudly. Throwing rocks or objects at the cougar is also recommended.”