'She wasn't scared a bit': How girl ELEVEN grabbed gun and shot dead cougar that was stalking her brother, 13, outside their house
When Tom White spotted a cougar approaching his teenage son outside their home in rural Washington state last week, there was only one thing to do - hand a gun to his 11-year-old daughter.
Without a moment's hesitation, Shelby White killed the female cougar, and wildlife officials suggested that the animal may have been sick.
The mountain cat was 4 years old and weighed about 50lbs, which is about half of what an animal that age should weigh.
Fearless: Shelby White, 11, is posing with a cougar she shot dead last week on her grandfather's property
'This cougar was very, very skinny,' State Fish and Wildlife Officer Cal Treser said.
The fearless 11-year-old took action when she saw the cougar following her 13-year-old brother as he was walking towards their home in the town of Twisp, population 940.
In a phone interview with MailOnline Wednesday night, Shelby’s grandfather, William White, revealed that it was a fourth cougar killed on his property in the past several weeks.
Mr White, 64, a cattle rancher, said that earlier this month, Shelby’s 13-year-old brother, Tanner, also shot a cougar that has been circling his farm.
‘We're real avid hunters,’ Mr White said of his clan, which he described as 'backwoodsy.' .
The rancher explained that until recently, local residents were able to keep the cougar population in check by hunting the predators with dogs, but two years ago, the local Legislature outlawed the practice.
William White explained that last Thursday, Shelby and her young brother were walking home from school when a dog started barking, alerting them to the presence of a predator.
‘She looked out, and there was this cougar,’ Mr White recalled.
The animal appeared to be moving in the direction of Shelby’s 13-year-old brother, who was unaware of the danger as he made his way toward the basement door with a bag of animal feed in his hands.
The girl’s father, Tom White, was home at the time, but Shelby was the only one in the family with a tag - a permit to legally kill a cougar.
‘He said, “Shelby, grab that gun and go shoot that cat,”’ White said, adding that the 11-year-old ‘wasn’t scared a bit’ as she pulled the trigger.
‘She was excited to get to do that,’ Mr White recalled.
Luckily for the older brother, the boy didn’t realize he was in danger until the cougar lurking nearby was dead at the hands of his sister.
The 64-year-old farmer used to be a hunter safety instructor and taught all his grandchildren how to properly use weapons.
‘I want my grandkids to know how to protect themselves ‘cause we have a lot predators,’ White explained.
Mr White said that Shelby has been hunting since she was 8 or 9 years old. Every year, the girl bags a deer with her .234 caliber gun – her weapon of choice because it does not have a powerful recoil.
Trophy: Cody White, 9, gunned down this 125-pound male cougar earlier this month under the supervision of a game warden
According to William White, there is still one more cougar somewhere on the property that has been threatening his dogs and cattle.
‘She is eager to shoot it,’ he said of Shelby.
Shelby is not the only one among her three siblings who knows her way around a gun – or a cougar.
According to her grandfather, the girl’s 9-year-old brother, Cody, also bagged himself a cat who wandered onto the ranch and killed one of his calves. A game warden from the Fish and Wildlife Department was present and gave the boy, who had a permit, the green light to pull the trigger.
Analysts are trying to determine why there are more cougar attacks this year than in previous years.
One of the theories suggests that the animals may be wandering into more residential areas in search of food if they are not finding enough deer- their usual prey- to keep them satisfied.
This incident was the third report of a cougar being killed in the span of a week in the area.
Over the course of this winter, however, state officials have tracked and killed give other cougars in the greater Twisp-Winthrop region.
Those five were flagged up after they attacked domestic animals.
An additional five cougars were killed by hunters.
The Fish and Wildlife Department felt it necessary to issue five special permits that allowed hunters to track cougars using dogs and kill the animals.
Residential: The town of Twisp, Washington does not normally have as many cougar sightings as it has experienced in recent weeks in spite of its proximity to the mountains