An eight-year-old girl was camping with her family at Olympic National Park in Port Angeles, Washington, over the weekend when she was attacked by a cougar, officials said.
The National Park Service said the attack happened at Lake Angeles about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The cougar fled the area after the girl’s mother screamed at it, FOX Seattle reported.
Park staff quickly responded to the area and treated the girl for minor injuries. She was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation, the service said. The area was also temporarily closed to the public.
“Due to the extreme nature of this incident, we are closing the Lake Angeles area and several trails in the vicinity,” Olympic National Park Wildlife Biologist Tom Kay said in the release. “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.”
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Park law enforcement and wildlife personnel specializing in cougar tracking were sent to the area the cougar was last seen in search of the animal, FOX 13 reported.
If found, the cougar will be euthanized and removed from the park for a necropsy. Officials said this may provide clues for why the attack occurred since cougars are rarely seen and attacks against humans are rare.
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According to the National Park Service, Olympic National Park has extensive protocols in place for wildlife observations, interactions and attacks, including the lethal removal of the cougar.
Olympic National Park is considered cougar territory and visitors are urged not to hike or jog alone. Officials also recommend keeping children within sight and for guests to leave pets at home.
Should a guest encounter a cougar, officials say not to run because it could trigger the animal’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.