Mountain lion attacks girl, 9, playing hide-and-seek | Washington state

A mountain lion attacked a nine-year-old girl who was playing hide-and-seek at a church camp in Washington state, seriously wounding her and sending her friends running in fear.

Lily A Kryzhanivskyy and two other children were playing in the woods on Saturday at the camp near the small town of Fruitland, north-west of Spokane. Lily jumped out to surprise her friends when the lion attacked, the Washington department of fish and wildlife said.

Adults rushed to help and found the girl covered in blood. She was airlifted to a hospital, where she had surgery for multiple wounds to her head and upper body.

Lily was released from intensive care on Monday but remained hospitalised in stable condition, the department said on Tuesday.

After the attack, adults staying at the church camp found the young male mountain lion and killed it.

“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 Captain Mike Sprecher from the fish and wildlife police. “It happened fast, and we are thankful that the adults at the camp responded so quickly.”

Tests completed over the weekend showed the animal did not have rabies, the agency said.

Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. There have been just two fatal attacks on humans in Washington state in the past 100 years, in 1924 and 2018, the agency said. State records show another 20 attacks on humans resulting in injuries.

The mountain lion, also known as a cougar, is the second-largest cat in the Americas after the jaguar. Secretive and largely solitary by nature, they are rarely seen in daylight. The ambush predator eats deer and smaller animals. While mountain lions generally avoid people, attacks on humans have increased in North America as more people enter their habitat.

“In this instance, this little girl did nothing wrong,” said fish and wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman. “It happened so quickly, and there’s nothing she could have done to prevent it.”

If attacked by a mountain lion, you should yell and try to make yourself look bigger, she said. If it attacks, stay on your feet and fight back. “Do not turn around. Don’t take your eyes off the animal,” Lehman said. “Don’t run.”

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