Toddler attacked by cougar on Vancouver Island

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:07pm EDT
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - An 18-month-old was recovering in a Vancouver hospital on Tuesday after being attacked by a cougar in a national park on Canada's West Coast, a park spokeswoman said.

Family members were able to scare off the big cat, which attacked the toddler on Monday evening as the family was walking to their car at a picnic area in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island.

"The family did all the right things. They made eye contact with the cougar and lots of noise," park spokeswoman Arlene Armstrong said.

She did not know the toddler's gender, nor extent of the child's injuries.

The large, wild cats are native to the rugged coastal region and are secretive by nature. They rarely attack humans and there have been only a handful of fatal cougar attacks in the province of British Columbia over the past 100 years.

Park rangers were trying to track the cougar, which will be killed once officials are certain it was the animal involved in the attack, Armstrong said.

Earlier this month, Pacific Rim warned on its website of increased wolf and cougar activity in some regions of the park, which lies along the Pacific Coast. The area where the child was mauled has now been closed to the public.

(Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson)