Girl attacked by cougar in northeast Washington, recovering at hospital

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Staci Lehman, 509-710-4511

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Lily A. Kryzhanivskyy and WDFW Sgt. Tony Leonetti

SPOKANE – A 9-year-old girl attending a camp near Fruitland in Stevens County, Washington was injured as the result of a cougar attack Saturday morning, May 28. 

Lily A. Kryzhanivskyy was transported to a hospital. She was released from the intensive care unit on Monday and is in stable condition. Her mother described Lily’s recovery so far as “amazing” and asked Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff to share that Lily wants people to know she was “very brave and tough” in the face of the attack.

Lily, along with two other children, was playing hide-and-seek in the woods a short distance from the camp buildings. Lily jumped out to surprise her friends when the cougar suddenly attacked. 

“We are extremely thankful for this little girl’s resiliency and we're impressed with her spunk, in the face of this unfortunate encounter,” said Capt. Mike Sprecher of the WDFW Police. “It happened fast and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly.”

The young male cougar was killed at the scene. Tests completed over the weekend showed the animal did not have rabies. WDFW officers were at the camp throughout the weekend combing through the scene to understand how the events unfolded.

Cougar attacks on humans are rare. There have been two fatal attacks on humans in Washington state and, prior to this incident, 19 that resulted in injuries to humans in the past 100 years. While they don’t happen often, cougar attacks can be serious.

“Wild animals don’t care to be around humans any more than we want to have close encounters with them,” added Capt. Sprecher.

If you do encounter a cougar, never turn and run. That can trigger a chase response. Instead,

  • Make eye contact with the cougar and back away slowly.
  • If the animal approaches you, try to look as big as possible. Stand on a rock and put your hands above your head.
  • Be assertive and yell, throw rocks or other items at it.
  • If it attacks, fight back, don’t play dead with cougars.

Additional information about cougar safety and what you should do if you encounter one can be found at Cougar | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.  WDFW advises that people hiking and recreating in the backcountry should carry bear spray as a precaution, which is also effective on cougars.

WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. 

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.