Wednesday, 14 September 2016

‘She will have stories to tell’: Idaho preschooler saved from jaws of mountain lion in rare attack

By Ben Guarino August 15 

The first time the mountain lion pawed its way through the Idaho campsite Friday, the cat went unnoticed by everyone except for one woman. Kera Butt was camping with her family in Green Canyon Hot Springs, near Yellowstone National Park, when she caught a glimpse of the animal.

“As we were eating dinner, I turned my head and saw the back part of the cat,” Butt told East Idaho News. “I saw it move and I told everyone, ‘I just saw a cat.’”

Her family was skeptical. It must have been a different species of animal — perhaps she had mistaken a wolf for the larger predator, they said. Although mountain lions are native to the Yellowstone area, the cats are almost mythical in their ability to go unseen. They are stealthy hunters and usually shy around humans. No more than a few dozen live in the 3,000-square-mile park at a time.

Butt’s eyes did not deceive her. She had indeed spotted a mountain lion, an event the Idaho Department of Fish and Game called “highly unusual.” Stranger still, the big cat would return later that night — in a brief moment that, to the Butt family, unfolded in horror.

By about 9 p.m. Friday night the family had dispersed throughout the campground after dinner. A few cousins went down to the creek to play. Butt had taken one of her daughters to use the bathroom in the forest, said Jim Sevy, a relative, in an interview with East Idaho News. Just beforehand, she put her daughter Kelsi, 4, in the tent to take a nap.

But Kelsi emerged soon after to join her cousins in the stream. “She got out of the tent because she couldn’t find her shoe,” Sevy, Kelsi’s grandfather, said.

In that moment, the mountain lion struck. The adults in the family heard screaming — one of the 10-year-old cousins witnessed the ambush. And as they ran toward the sounds, they saw the cat holding Kelsi in its mouth.

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