California often is heralded for its inviting climate, beautiful scenery and fertile land — but humans aren’t the only ones who appreciate these attributes.
Much of the wildlife in Southern California is fairly inoffensive and relatively harmless if you leave the critters be, but others are not above putting humans on the menu.
Mountain lion attacks are rare in the state. While most hikers know to keep an eye out, the big cats hunt quietly, are nearly invisible, like to attack from behind, and often go for the head or neck.
On Monday, a mountain lion in Pico Canyon Park reportedly attacked a 7-year-old boy who was hiking with his dad near dusk. Thankfully, although the cat did ambush them and attacked the boy from behind, it went for his buttocks and not his spine.
The two were walking in the park located near Santa Clarita when the father heard his son, who was walking ahead, scream. The dad ran at the mountain lion, which let go and ran away.
“The dad closed in on the lion, and the lion retreated back into the brush,” Capt. Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The boy was taken to a hospital after the attack and is projected to make a full recovery.
“It was a pretty traumatic episode for him, but he’s expected to be fine,” Foy said, according to The Associated Press.
The boy’s wound was swabbed so that wildlife officials can confirm that a mountain lion was responsible and to get the animal’s DNA profile.
The dad said he didn’t notice a collar on the mountain lion, according to the AP, and a search is underway to find the animal.
The cat is being called “aggressive,” and the park has been closed until further notice. Fish and Wildlife officers are baiting traps with deer carcasses in an effort to lure the cat.
“Pico Canyon Park and Trailhead remains temporarily closed until further notice,” County of Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreation posted on Facebook.
“An aggressive Mountain Lion has been sighted in the area. An investigation led by Fish and Wildlife is ongoing. If you see a Mountain Lion in the area, call 9-1-1.”
Foy said officials are doing their best to protect animals and people, but if caught, the cougar would be put down if its DNA samples match the boy’s wounds, according to KABC-TV.
“Everything we do, and every part of our mission, is to better help wildlife and people co-exist,” Foy said.
He said approximately 20 confirmed cougar attacks have occurred in California in 110 years of record-keeping, per the AP.
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