By Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com
REXBURG — A four-year-old girl who was snatched up by a mountain lion Friday night is recovering from the scary encounter, according to her grandfather.
“She is doing fine,” Jim Sevy told EastIdahoNews.com. “Her great-grandpa gave her a priesthood blessing and told her she will have stories to tell.”
The child was camping with her mother, siblings and cousins near Green Canyon Hot Springs east of Rexburg on Aug. 12.
Sevy said as the family was eating dinner, the girl’s mother thought she spotted a big cat out of the corner of her eye.
“Nobody else thought much of it and, a short time later, her mom went to put the four-year-old in the tent for a nap,” Sevy says.
The mother then took her six-year-old child into the woods to use the restroom, according to Sevy. That’s when everyone heard the younger child start to scream.
“She got out of the tent because she couldn’t find her shoe,” Sevy said. “That’s when the mountain lion grabbed her and started carrying her away.”
The girl’s mother chased the cougar and the cat released the child before running away.
The young girl was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center with some scratches and bite marks on her stomach and arm.
“She is getting rabies shots and injections in her puncture wounds,” Sevy said. “She should be okay.”
Idaho Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer Andrew Sorensen called on the help of hound hunter Mike Pimentel to attempt to track the lion.
At 2:00 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, a young female lion was treed by the hounds a few hundred yards from the camp, according to Idaho Fish and Game spokesman Gregg Losinski. Madison County Sheriff deputies responded to the scene and euthanized the cat.
Cougar sightings, let alone attacks, are relatively rare, according to Losinski. No one in the State of Idaho has ever been killed by a mountain lion.
“When lions do attack, records indicate that small children are often the targets,” Losinski said. “This family showed how vigilance and quick thinking can help avert a tragedy.”
Sevy said the family returned to the campsite to finish their trip. He is thankful for the response of Fish & Game and other officers and knows his granddaughter is lucky to be alive.
“It could have gone the other way so easily,” Sevy said. “She could have been gone and we would have never seen her. You really have to keep your eyes open when you’re out camping.”