A nine-year-old girl is recovering after she was brutally mauled by a cougar over the holiday weekend during a rare attack in Washington state. It happened in Fruitland on Saturday morning while Lily Kryzhanivskyy was playing hide and seek with some friends near a kid's camp. According to authorities, the cougar attacked suddenly and without warning.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Communications Director Staci Lehman told KXLY News the little girl fought back, which is probably what ended up saving her life.
"In this instance, this little girl did nothing wrong," Lehman told reporters. "It happened so quickly, and there's nothing she could have done to prevent it."
Lehman said such attacks are rare; there have only been two fatal ones in Washington over the last one hundred years. In Lily's case, her screams alerted a nearby camper, Ivan Zhuk, who was one of the first on the scene as the cougar attempted to drag her into the brush.
"It's going to be in my mind and my heart forever," Zhuk told the news station. "When I got there, she was under the tree. I thought she was dead because she is hauling blood and everything, just covered in blood basically."
Big Country News further reports the big cat was later cornered and killed by some of the men who responded to the scene. Stevens County Wildlife Conflict Specialist Jeff Flood told the news site the attacking cat was only one or two years old. It also appeared to be healthy. A press release from the WDFW confirms the animal did not have rabies.
The release notes that Kryzhanivskyy was airlifted to an intensive care unit. She suffered severe lacerations but was able to be released from intensive care on Monday.
"We are extremely thankful to this little girl's resiliency and we're impressed with her spunk, in the face of this unfortunate encounter," Captain Mike Sprecher of the WDFW said in the release. "It happened fast and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly."
The WDFW is using the incident to remind the public about the dangers of cougars. They recommend never running from a cougar if you find yourself face to face with one. Instead, make eye contact and slowly back away. Try to make yourself larger and put your hands over your head. Yell and be assertive with the animal, throw rocks or debris at it. Most importantly, if attacked, fight back and do not play dead.
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