Shelby White, 11, shot and harvested her first mountain lion outside her grandfather’s ranch in Twisp, Washington last week. The cougar, a skinny 50-pound animal estimated to be about four years old, was stalking White’s 13-year-old brother as he was walking home. According to The Daily Mail, White went inside the house and grabbed a rifle, which she used to fatally shoot the mountain lion. At the time, White was the only person in her family to hold a cougar tag.
“She looked out, and there was this cougar,” said William White, her grandfather.
The 64-year-old rancher said he taught his grandchildren from a young age how to hunt and properly use firearms. He said it is a useful skill set to have in the rural township of Twisp, which has a population of only 920. More and more cougars have been wandering into the town over the past several months. State wildlife officials killed five mountain lions in the region this winter with hunters accounting for another five.
“I want my grandkids to know how to protect themselves ‘cause we have a lot predators,” William said.
The Associated Press reported that the same cougar Shelby White shot last week was previously chased away by her father, Tom White, when it began harassing calves on the ranch. Washington Fish and Wildlife Officer Cal Treser said the cat was abnormally skinny and weighed about half of what a healthy mountain lion of its age should.
“This cougar was very, very skinny,” Treser said.
Some experts have suggested that central Washington residents may be seeing more wildlife because there simply is not enough food in the woods. Animals like mountain lions are opportunistic predators, and are more than happy to take advantage of an easy meal. Although cougars very rarely attack humans, they have been known to prey on domestic animals such as cats and dogs. Wildlife officials advise keeping deer and rabbits away from your property as they can attract predators. Proper fencing and lighting will also deter mountain lions, who largely avoid humans if possible.