Fruitland, WA

Washington State Cougar Attacks Child

Lefty Graves

With the recent cougar attack in Fruitland, Washington, many people have questions regarding how to protect themselves and how frequent cougar attacks happen. In the last 100 years, only 126 cougar attacks have been reported in North America. Of those 126 attacks, 27 of them were fatal. When considering 100 years, 126 cougar attacks isn’t that high of a number. Cougar attacks are very rare; in fact, a person has a higher likelihood of being bitten by a snake, struck by lightning, or stung by bees than they do of being attacked by a cougar.

For anyone out in the woods, it’s important to understand that there are predators out there. From cougars to bears to other predators, it’s essential to be ready and understand how to prevent an attack. Children should always be accompanied by adults when out in the woods. Children should also learn how to protect themselves.

In the case of the young nine-year-old girl attacked by a cougar on Saturday, May 28th, the young girl certainly isn’t at fault here. She was playing in a camp area with her friends when she was suddenly mauled within inches of her life. Had it not been for her quick-thinking friends who sought help, she may not be with us today. Anyone wishing to donate to Lily, who was attacked by the cougar on Saturday, May 28th, 2022, may go to their fund me page here.

What To do If You Find Yourself Facing A Cougar

So what should a person do if they suddenly find themselves in the company of a cougar? There are a few things that they can do. One of the most important things to remember is not to run. If a person runs, a cougar sees that as an opportunity to run down their prey and attack.

It’s also not a good idea to play dead or to stand still. This could make a cougar think that the person is fair game. Instead, if you suddenly find yourself in the company of a predator such as a cougar, it’s essential to make eye contact and be loud.

  • Shout at the cougar and tell it to “go away.”
  • Make yourself appear larger by holding a jacket open and standing tall with your arms raised.
  • Maintain eye contact (never turn your back on a predator).
  • Never run or play dead.
  • Be very loud.
  • If you have medium-sized rocks at hand, throw some of them at the animal.
  • Use sticks if you have them and hold them up to appear larger.
  • Carry a “bear horn” with you if you have any. The sound will help to deter a potential attack.

While there is no exact science to fending off a cougar, these things may help you avoid being attacked.

Educating Children About Cougars

  • Children appear to be more at risk for cougar attacks than adults. Perhaps it’s their voices being higher pitched or their smaller size. Cougars may also have difficulty identifying a small human vs. small prey.
  • Teach children what to do if they should encounter a cougar.
  • Turn on some music to help deter cougars.
  • Encourage children to remain with a group and not to go off by themselves.
  • Dogs are great early warning systems as dogs can readily see, hear, and smell far sooner than we as humans can.
  • Consider fencing in play areas.
  • Make sure children aren’t out just before dawn or at dusk when cougars tend to be more active.
  • Have an adult walk children to and from bus stops and other areas in the early morning.
  • Keep bushes and shrubbery trimmed away from houses, bus stops, and other areas where children frequent.
  • Ensure that proper lighting is installed and in working condition in areas where predators may frequent.

Cougar Habitat

Cougars tend to appreciate outcroppings of rocks or boulders and vegetation that they can hide in, such as dense bushes and forests. Here they can hide while they’re hunting their prey.

Adult males will roam in a wide area ranging from 50 to 150 square miles depending upon their age.

Adult males may have as many as three to four females with territories overlapping their roaming range.

Male cougars will leave their mothers while still relatively young and establish their territories.

If you do see a cougar in your area that could be a threat to human or property safety, call your local emergency number. In most regions, this number is 911. If the animal isn’t a problem, you can contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife office and report the animal as well if you can take a picture of the animal; that is also helpful as some of the animals have been collared, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife can sometimes identify the animal from the photo with a collar. You can reach the Department of Fish and Wildlife at 509.684.8384.


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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming & more. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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