Wildlife officers searched the property — and found the lion still hiding there.
A Calabasas mom saved her son’s life after taking on a mountain lion with her bare hands.
On Thursday, the five-year-old was playing his front yard in Monte Nido when he was suddenly attacked by the 65lb predator, dragging him about 45 yards and inflicting wounds to his head, neck and upper torso.
Luckily his mother was nearby and sprang into action, punching the feline multiple times until it released him and fled.
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The boy was rushed to hospital and treated for his injuries, were he remained in a stable condition.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers were called to the scene, and during a protocol clearing of the yard — they discovered an aggressive mountain lion crouched in the corner, still on the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on site,” CDFW said in a statement.
About 20 minutes later, two more mountain lions turned up at the site.
One was a full grown adult with a radio collar around its neck; the other was smaller — about the same size as the lion they’d just shot — and was uncollared.
After confirming with the victim’s mother that the attacking animal had been uncollared, officers decided to use a non-lethal tranquilizer rifle to shoot and capture the smaller lion.
Coordinating with the National Park Service, they confirmed the adult lion was P-54, a female who is part of the NPS mountain lion study, who had just birthed cubs in October.
She has no known human-wildlife conflicts in her history, so she was allowed to leave. Her radio collar reading confirmed she vacated the neighborhood afterward.
DNA samples from the dead lion, the tranquilized lion and the child were collected and sent to CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento; scientists analyzed samples from underneath the claws of the lion carcass and isolated traces of human tissue and blood with a DNA profile that matched the young victim. A full lion DNA profile was also obtained from the victims shirt, and confirmed the dead lion was the one that attacked the boy.
The tranquilized lion, cleared of the attack, was then collared and released in proximity to P-54 into the nearest suitable habitat.
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“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” the department’s Captain Patrick Foy told AP. “The mother was inside the house when she heard commotion outside.”
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son.”
Mountain lion attacks on humans in California are extremely rare; before this, there hadn’t been one recorded in Los Angeles County since 1995. You are, for example, far more likely to be killed by hitting a deer with your car.
The Nation Parks Service gives very specific advise on how to deal with an encounter with a mountain lion, which are normally very calm, quiet and elusive. Should you encounter one, you are advised to stay calm, hold your ground and back away slowly, maintaining eye contact and never turning your back.
If you have children, pick them up, but try to do so without crouching or bending over; Biologists surmise mountain lions don’t recognize standing humans as prey, but a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal.
In the unlikely event it does act aggressively, make yourself appear as big as possible with your arms or jacket, shout at it loudly, and try scare it away by throwing sticks, stones or items in your possession — again, without crouching to pick them up, if possible.
Ideally you only want to convince it you are not prey and can defend yourself, and not injure it — an mountain lion half blinded by a rock, for example, is likely to become a bigger problem to future hikers.
“A hungry, stressed mountain lion with only one good eye, upon observing an abundance of slow, frequently inattentive* bipeds on park trails may attack one of us humans, hoping for an easy meal. (*Put your earbuds and smart phone away and enjoy the natural quiet while you hike)” the NPS advises.
Obviously, if none of the above work — be like the Calabasas mom and fight back! It’s you or the lion, after all.
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