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Her son downed by cougar, mother uses weapon at hand

Thu., Sept. 10, 2009

She has asked to remain anonymous, but recognition is required for any supermom who fights off a cougar that’s mauling her 5-year-old son.

Her weapon: a metal water bottle.

The attack occurred Sept. 2 on the Silver Creek portion of the hiking trail to Abercrombie Mountain, northwest of Metaline Falls.

The family, visiting from Rossland, B.C., had spread out a bit. The father and daughter were ahead followed by the mother and the son, who was lagging less than 20 yards behind her, according to Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement supervisor Mike Whorton.

The cougar sprang out of the only patch of cover along that stretch of trail, investigating officers reported.

“The mother was just picking up the water bottle her husband had left on the trail for her when she saw her son go to the ground out of the corner of her eye,” Whorton said.

“She immediately ran over and began hitting the cougar with the stainless steel bottle. She was there so fast the cougar didn’t have a chance to get a death grip on the boy’s neck. The claw marks on his chest indicated the cougar was still trying to turn him into position to get a good hold.”

The mother beat the cat – estimated at 80 pounds – hard enough to make it release the boy. But the cougar retreated only a few feet and looked back.

The mother threw the water bottle.

There was no radar to record the speed or umpire to call the accuracy, but she had enough stuff on that bottle to persuade the cougar to sprint downhill and disappear into the timber.


The boy is healing with no complications from the teeth and claw marks to his head and chest, the family told Whorton.

A hunter with hounds had no luck in tracking down the offending cougar last weekend.

Fish and Wildlife officials issued the hunter a three-day kill permit.

“That’s basically all we can do,” Whorton said. “At this point, if we found a cougar in the area we’d have no cause to believe it’s the cat that took down the child.”

The incident emphasizes a precaution wildlife experts preach to families heading into cougar or wolf country.

Kids should be kept close and between adults as much as possible. Cougars and wolves in particular are known to key in on the smallest and most vulnerable prey in a flock, and that means children.

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