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Washington Tracking Cougar After Attack on Child

September 4, 2009.

From the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers are searching for a cougar that reportedly attacked a child in Stevens County.

A 5-year-old Canadian boy reportedly was attacked and injured while he was hiking with his family on the Abercrombie Mountain Trail, along Silver Creek in the Colville National Forest east of Northport. 

His parents, of Rossland, British Columbia, reported a cougar suddenly jumped out of a brushy area onto the boy, who was near his mother on the trail. The mother reportedly fought off the cougar and the parents took the child to Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, B. C., about 25 miles away. The boy’s parents have asked that their names not be made public.

The parents said their son was treated for head wounds at the hospital and released, and is expected to recover completely. 

After WDFW was notified of the incident by the boy’s father this morning, WDFW officers contacted local hunters with hounds trained to tree cougars, to assist in searching for the cougar. If the animal is found, it will be killed. 

"When human life is threatened in this way, we take no chances," said WDFW Regional Enforcement Capt. Mike Whorton. "Cougars that have attacked people clearly pose a continuing public-safety risk and are euthanized if they are captured."

Colville Forest officials, contacted by WDFW, are posting the trailhead with signs advising users that cougars and other potentially dangerous animals are in the area, and offering advice on how avoid or deal with an encounter.

The last cougar attack in Washington was last year in Douglas County. Since records have been kept, there have been 18 reported cougar attacks in the state, including one fatality in 1924 in Okanogan County.  

WDFW estimates the state’s cougar population at about 1,900-2,100 animals.

To reduce the risk of a cougar attack, Whorton noted that small children should be closely supervised in cougar country. For more information on cougars, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/living/cougars.htm.  


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