PORT ANGELES, Washington (WJW) – An 8-year-old child was attacked by a cougar at Olympic National Park’s Lake Angeles on Saturday evening.
The child was with their family at Lake Angeles, south of Port Angeles, when the attack happened Saturday night, the National Park Service said Monday.
“The cougar casually abandoned its attack after being yelled and screamed at by the child’s mother,” NPS wrote in a news release. The child suffered only minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Park officials then evacuated the remaining campers in the Lake Angeles area, closing the space and Heather Park to the public. Olympic National Park wildlife biologist Tom Kay said in a statement that the decision to close the Lake Angeles Trail, Heather Park Trail, Switchback Trail, and the entire Klahhane Ridge Trail was made “out of an abundance of caution.”
Early Sunday morning, park law enforcement and wildlife personnel who specialize in cougar tracking were dispatched to the last known location of the cougar at Lake Angeles, the park service reported. If located, the cougar 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,” park officials said. “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.”
Because Olympic National Park is considered “cougar territory,” NPS recommends visitors be prepared for the encounter. They should not hike or jog alone, and children should remain near adults. Pets should also be left at home.
Should you encounter a cougar, you should remain calm and avoid running, according to wildlife experts. Do your best to appear as large as possible, continue watching the animal, and be loud. NPS also recommends throwing items like rocks or sticks at the cougar.
There have been no recent deaths caused by cougars in Olympic National Park, according to NPS data.
It’s not the first wildlife attack in the national parks this year, though.
Last week, a woman was found dead after an “apparent bear encounter” near Yellowstone National Park. Earlier this month, a woman in the park suffered “significant injuries” after being gored by a bison.
The park warns that between mid-July and mid-August, bison are in mating season and “can become agitated more quickly.”