Campers at Olympic National Park in Washington state were evacuated after an 8-year-old was attacked by a cougar over the weekend.
According to a news release from the National Park Service, the child was camping at Lake Angeles in the Heart O’ the Hills area south of Port Angeles when the cougar attacked on July 29. Lake Angeles is a nearly three-hour drive northwest of Seattle.
The cougar “casually abandoned its attack” after the child’s mother yelled and screamed at it, according to the news release. The child was taken to a local hospital for evaluation after being examined by park personnel, who determined the child sustained minor injuries.
“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 explained, according to the news release.
The Lake Angeles Trail, Heather Park Trail, Switchback Trail and Klahhane Ridge Trail will be closed until further notice.
If the cougar is located, it will be euthanized and removed from the park for a necropsy, the news release said.
"This may provide clues as to why the animal attacked since cougars are rarely seen and attacks on humans are extraordinarily rare," the news release said.
The news release advised that the entire Olympic National Park region is considered cougar territory and that visitors should not hike the area alone or with pets. It further emphasized that children should be kept within close sight of adults, and those who come across a cougar must remember not to run "because it could trigger the cougar’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," the news release explained. "Throwing rocks or objects at the cougar is also recommended.”