St. Albert teen injured in cougar attack in southern Alberta national park

A St. Albert teen was injured Monday, after a cougar pounced on her during a hike in a national park in southern Alberta – it’s an incident that’s prompted a warning from Parks Canada.

On Monday, Mykaela Belter, 16, was hiking with family members Monday in Waterton Lakes National Park when a cougar pounced on her.

“We saw rustling so when I turned, and saw a cougar it grabbed on my leg and lower back,” Belter said in an interview with CTV News.

“I felt the pain as soon as it clawed me.”

Her sister Gabrielle described what happened next.

“I was super surprised to see the cougar hanging onto her, it kind of pulled her towards the bushes and that started freaking me out,” Gabrielle Belter said. “I started screaming because I didn’t know what to do.”

At this, witnesses said, the big cat started to retreat.

Mykaela suffered puncture wounds to her back and leg, and scratches on her hands; she received stitches and has since been released.

The teen’s mother Jacqueline Belter told CTV News she was in St. Albert Monday, and learned about what happened through text messages.

“She was very emotional, she was crying, and then I was crying,” she said.

Parks Canada said the cougar, found to be a young female, was later put down by officials.

Officials said some other hiking groups reported they had been approached by a cougar that appeared to be unafraid of people, and a warning was issued for visitors to the park, the incident is believed to be highly unusual, as cougars tend to not behave aggressively – officials said they tend to avoid humans.

The warning covers the Lakeshore trail from the townsite to Boundary Bay, and advises visitors to keep children close, to travel in groups, consider carrying bear spray and a walking stick, keep pets leashed, and to be alert at all times.

With files from Serena Mah, and CTV Calgary

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