A girl, 11, shot a cougar that was stalking her older brother and potentially preparing to kill him. Shelby White thought quickly, grabbed a nearby rifle and shot the emaciated animal, which was only feet from entering their home in rural Twisp, Washington Feb. 20.
The 11-year-old girl spotted her brother, Tanner, heading back inside from feeding the family's dogs when the 4-year-old cougar jumped up from underneath a car. The 14-year-old boy didn't see, though, and barely made it inside with the beast just feet away, Officer Cal Treser of the state Fish and Wildlife Department said.
"His dad was in there and said, 'Close the door!' and there was the cougar, right behind him," Treser recounted to the Associated Press.
Shelby acted fast, shooting the animal dead by the basement door of the house. She had a tag to hunt cougars, which allows a hunter to kill one cougar without repercussions.
This wasn't the family's first interaction with that particular big cat, though. The children's father, Thomas White, chased the female cougar away from the cows and calves on their Lookout Mountain Ranch at 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. earlier that morning.
Authorities said the cougar was probably looking for its meal— it only weighed 50 pounds, which is half of what it should have weighed for one four years old.
"This cougar was very, very skinny," Treser said. "It was starving to death."
There have been reports of increased cougar activity in the north central Washington region recently, especially near the Lookout Mountain Ranch. Cody White, the younger brother who is just nine years old, shot a 120-pound cougar that was on a hillside where cows are kept on Feb. 13. Later that week, another hunter tracked a cougar to the Whites' driveway and killed it.
So far 10 cougars have been killed in the area by Wildlife officials and hunters. The department said the predators may be having trouble finding deer and venture closer and closer to humans for food.