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Spokane girl attacked by cougar back in the woods for therapy

Lily Kryzhanivskyy, who was attacked by a cougar at a campground near Fruitland, went back in the woods for recovery therapy.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Lily Kryzhanivskyy, the nine-year-old girl who was attacked by a cougar at a campground near Fruitland on May 28, is back in the woods for recovery in a form of therapy and education.

Since the attack, Lily had been steadily recovering at the hospital and a GoFundMe set up for her raised more than $100,000. Her family continues to update the GoFundMe showing Lily's progress.

This week, Lily was invited to remove the collar from a cougar with the wildlife program Kalispel Tribe of Indians. The research study aims to keep cougars from being habituated to humans and livestock. 

In the study, cougars are collared, released and then tracked further with hounds. Cougars aren't killed in the study. The goal of the study is to test methods of aversive conditioning that will ultimately result in less human and livestock conflict and result in removing fewer cougars from the landscape. 

Bart George, wildlife program manager for the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, runs the study along with wildlife specialist Jeff Flood and houndsman Bruce Duncan. George, Flood and Duncan contacted Lily’s family and invited her to accompany them to remove the collar from a cougar they had been studying.

"As you can see from the photo, Lily has faced any fears she may have head on and had a fantastic experience doing so," Stevens County Sheriff Brad A. Manke said in a statement. "The cougar was safely released back into the woods."

Credit: Stevens County Sheriff’s Office

Lily was attacked on Saturday, May 28 around 11 a.m. at a kids camp near Fruitland, Washington. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) said prior to the attack, Lily was playing hide-and-seek in the woods with two other children. When Lily jumped out to surprise her friends, the cougar suddenly attacked.

On June 13, Lily headed out to Seattle for facial nerve surgery for her left eye, which is still not opening all the way. However, her family says this isn't going to be a concern for her recovery.

Many people, including Washington Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Tyler Bahrenburg, praised Lily for her toughness and spirit through her recovery.

"She's a very tough girl," Bahrenburg said. "She's tougher than most grown men that I know."

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