9-year-old girl survives rare cougar attack in Washington

Fish and Wildlife official says if confronted, make yourself seem bigger than cougar, don't run

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A 9-year-old girl survived a cougar attack after wandering up a trail with two friends while camping in northwest Washington state.

It happened Saturday morning near Fruitland, Washington. The girl fought back while her friends ran for their lives. Adults rushed to help and found the girl covered in blood. She was soon airlifted to a hospital, where she’s recovering after surgery for multiple wounds to her head and upper body. Others found the young male cougar and killed it.

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Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman says cougar attacks are rare, with only two fatalities in the last century in Washington state.

Cougar watching prey.

Cougar watching prey. (iStock)

"In this instance, this little girl did nothing wrong," she said. "It happened so quickly, and there’s nothing she could have done to prevent it."

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Anyone confronted by a cougar should yell at the animal and try to make yourself look bigger than it is, she said. If it attacks, "Fight back as hard as you can and try to stay on your feet."

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"Do not turn around. Don’t take your eyes off the animal," Lehman added. "Don’t run."