OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — The High Ridge Trail in the Hurricane Ridge area was closed for a day after a visitor reported seeing a cougar there.
Park officials closed the trail Friday morning after the report came in at 10 a.m., said Amos Almy, park spokesperson.
It was reopened on Saturday after a law enforcement ranger looked for the animal and did not find it.
Almy said the cougar was seen near the top of the intermediate slope of the ski area.
Park personnel are on alert for cougars after an 8-year-old boy was attacked by one on July 29 while camping with his family at Lake Angeles, about 4 miles from where the cougar was spotted Friday on the High Ridge Trail.
The boy’s mother frightened the cougar off by screaming at it, and the boy survived the attack with what were described as minor injuries.
The Lake Angeles/Heather Park Loop area remains closed because of that attack.
Officials were preparing to reopen the trail about a week ago, but game cameras, which are checked daily, confirmed there is at least one cougar still in the area.
“There are wildlife cameras that need to be checked manually and others that use cell reception,” Almy said in an email. “So far, only the ones that have to be checked manually have caught images of cougars.
“Unfortunately, by the time wildlife technicians check them, it is too late to call in a hound team to try and track the cougar,” because the dogs must have a fresh trail no older than six hours. “But we know a cougar still remains in the area, so the area remains closed.”
It is unknown if the cougar sighted on Friday is the same one that attacked the child. Cougars are territorial so it is possible, according to the park’s wildlife biologist, Almy said, but it is also possible that there are multiple cougars in the area.
All that is known now is that the cougar that attacked the child and those seen in photos are uncollared, but that is the extent of the description officials have.
The High Ridge Trail, which begins as a paved trail and gradually turns into a dirt trail, connects with the Sunrise Trail.
The area will continue to be monitored.