» » Puncture wounds of four-year-old girl snatched from campsite by mountain lion and rescued by family

A four-year-old girl was rescued from the jaws of a mountain lion which snatched her from a campsite and dragged her away.

The youngster, identified as Kelsi Butt, suffered puncture wounds to her torso from the big cat's teeth following the terrifying incident on Friday evening.

The child's family had gathered for a reunion near a hot springs in eastern Idaho when she was snatched by a young male mountain lion.

The animal believed to be behind the attack was later tracked and killed by authorities.

Wildlife manager Gregg Losinski said: "She was literally in the mouth of the mountain lion when the quick thinking and heroic reactions of her mother and other adults saved her life.

"The cat dropped her and backed off."

Losinski said the girl and her young cousins had been put down for a nap in a tent early on Friday evening when the child strayed from the campsite and was almost immediately pounced upon by the big cat.

The lion had the girl in its jaws and was trying to drag her from the campsite when her mother and other relatives screamed and shouted as they charged the animal, which fled.

The family contacted authorities shortly after the attack, which left little Kelsi with scratches and puncture wounds.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game enlisted the help of a hunter with hounds to track the lion and local sheriff’s deputies ultimately shot and killed it.

It is rare for mountain lions to attack people and even rarer for one to kill a human, with fatal attacks occurring about once every seven or eight years in the United States and Canada.

No-one in Idaho has been killed by a mountain lion in at least a century, even though the animals, which are subject to regulated hunting, number in the thousands in the state, Losinski said.

A mountain lion last injured a person in Idaho in 2011 when a boy was swiped by a cougar that had killed his pet dog.

The only other known case involved a 12-year-old boy on the Salmon River in the early 1990s, according to the Department of Fish and Game.

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