SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Wildlife officers on Wednesday were tracking a mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy and prompted the closure of a sprawling Southern California park, authorities said.
The child and his father were walking up stairs at Pico Canyon Park near Santa Clarita around dusk on Monday when a cougar emerged from brush and bit the boy on the buttocks, said Capt. Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Foy said the father, who was walking behind, heard his son cry out and charged toward the big cat. “The lion let go and retreated back into the brush,” he said.
The boy was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Foy said.
“It was a pretty traumatic episode for him, but he’s expected to be fine,” he said.
Wildlife officials sampled the bite wound to confirm that a mountain lion was responsible and to obtain a DNA profile of the animal.
The father said the cougar didn’t appear to be wearing a GPS collar from the National Park Service, which tracks and studies big cats in Southern California. The park service said it doesn’t have a collared mountain lion in the area and the park is outside its research zone, according to Foy.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. Around 20 confirmed attacks have occurred in California in 110 years of record-keeping, he said.
Fish and Wildlife officers surveyed the area and set up baited boxes to try and trap the mountain lion at the park in foothills about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The park remained closed Wednesday.