9-year-old recovering from cougar attack

SPOKANE, Wash. — A 9-year-old girl is in the hospital after a savage and sudden attack by a cougar.

It happened north of Spokane. The girl was left with injuries all over her body.

Cougar attacks are rare. Wildlife officials say there have only been about 20 cougar attacks in all of Washington in the last century.

The victim, Lily Kryzhanivskyy, may be tiny, but she is tough.

“She wanted us to let people know that she is tough, and she is very brave. (That) is what she asked us to share with people,” said Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife spokesperson, Staci Lehman.

Officials said that over the weekend, Lily was at a kids’ camp near Fruitland when a cougar pounced without warning.

The 9-year-old was left with cuts and scratches all over her face and body.

“In this case, it happened so fast that there’s nothing this little girl could’ve done,” said Lehman.

It’s been four years since a documented cougar attack in Washington, and wildlife officials said there have only been two documented deaths from cougar attacks in Washington’s history.

Those who survived cougar attacks described total terror.

Phillip Anderson survived a cougar attack in the Cascades in 1996.

“I pulled his head off of my chest, but my thumb went into the back of his mouth. He gnawed my thumbnail off, and then when I got my foot up in between us, I kicked him off and one claw caught the webbing of my hand. And I ran down to the trailhead,” said Anderson.

The cougar that attacked Lily was eventually found and killed.

Wildlife officials say cougars normally keep to themselves. An autopsy is in progress on the animal that attacked Lily so that experts can determine why the big cat was so agitated.

“Maybe it had rabies, maybe it was a disease. Anything that would make it attack randomly like that,” said Lehman.

Lily is currently in intensive care at a Spokane hospital.

She’s awake and talking, and there’s no doubt that someday she’ll have quite a tale of survival.

“She’s definitely a fortunate little girl, and as she said in her own words, brave and tough,” said Lehman.

As we head into warm weather season, wildlife experts say that bear spray could be the best defense against a cougar attack.