UPDATED June 24, 2022, 11:30 a.m., with additional information and statements from WDFW in the seventh paragraph and second to last paragraph.
The young girl hospitalized for a week with serious injuries from a cougar attack last month had another encounter with a big cat in Northeast Washington today – a far, far more positive and uplifting one.
The Stevens County Sheriff’s Office reports Lily Kryzhanivskyy assisted in the removal of a collar from a cougar that had been captured as part of a local tribe’s behavioral study.
“Bravest girl on Earth,” SCSO posted on Facebook this afternoon, and we couldn’t agree more.
In just seven hours the post has been liked, hugged and hearted over 2,000 times and shared 714 times as people react to Lily’s amazing story.
After the late May attack that occurred while she was playing hide-and-go-seek with other girls at a bible camp near Fruitland in southern Stevens County, Lily was in the hospital for a week and reportedly needed 400 stitches. Her uncle, who organized a Go Fund Me campaign, states that she still needs to go to a Seattle hospital for nerve surgery as one of her eyes is not fully opening.
Meanwhile, SCSO says that Lily’s family had been contacted by Bart George, wildlife program director of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Jeff Flood, wildlife specialist for SCSO, and houndsman Bruce Duncan, who invited the 9-year-old to take off the collar from a study animal.
WDFW spokeswoman Becky Elder said the event was facilitated by agency Sgt. Tony Leonetti after Lily’s family wanted to get her outdoors as part of her recovery.
The tribe’s research, which was featured in a recent Meateaterepisode, involves catching mountain lions near homes and farms and that haven’t been involved in livestock or domestic animal depredations, capturing and outfitting them with telemetry that collects a ton of locational data, and hazing them several times over a six-week period with the use of a speaker broadcasting a human voice and hounds then treeing the cats.
“No cougars are killed in the study. The goal is to test methods of aversive conditioning that will ultimately result in less human/livestock conflict and result in removing fewer cougars from the landscape,” SCSO summarized on Facebook.
While the cougar that attacked Lily was immediately killed, today she saw a different side of their behavior.
“As you can see from the photo, Lily has faced any fears she may have head on and had a fantastic experience doing so,” SCSO reported. “The cougar was safely released back into the woods.”
“We continue to be impressed with Lily’s positivity and outlook on life after such a life-changing incident. She is a true fighter and survivor; we wish her all the best on her continued road to recovery,” added WDFW’s Elder.
What a great and wonderful experience to have and have been able to share by George, Flood and Duncan, and what an amazing human being Lily is.