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Mountain Lion Suspected Of Attacking Boy In Los Peñasquitos Canyon Killed

A sign warning parkgoers of mountain lion activities in the Los Peñasquitos C...

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Above: A sign warning parkgoers of mountain lion activities in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, May 28, 2019.

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California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers killed a mountain lion suspected of attacking a 4-year-old boy at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve because the animal appeared to have little fear of humans, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

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Aired: May 29, 2019 | Transcript

UPDATED: 1:52 p.m., May 28, 2019.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers killed a mountain lion suspected of attacking a 4-year-old boy at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve because the animal appeared to have little fear of humans, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

The boy was taken to Rady's Children's Hospital for treatment of undisclosed but non-life-threatening injuries from the attack, which was reported shortly before 2:30 p.m. Monday at the preserve in the Rancho Peñasquitos area, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and the CDFW.

Reported by L. Matthew Bowler

A hospital spokesman said Tuesday that the youngster is in good condition and is expected to be released soon.

Witnesses said the boy's father kicked the large cat — which was believed to be a mountain lion — and threw a rock to scare it away.

The boy was with a group of 11 people at the time, in an area known as Carson's Crossing in the center of the preserve.

“Jumped out of the bushes — the grass was really high and attacked the kid,” said CDFW Lt. Scott Bringman . “Most of the group scattered and the dad stayed threw rocks and the animal left — which he did the right thing.”

Bringman said wildlife officers responded to the scene and identified mountain lion tracks, then an 80-pound female cougar approached the officers a short time later.

"The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion," the lieutenant said. "The wildlife officers immediately dispatched the animal to ensure public safety."

Wildlife officers collected clothing samples from the boy and sent them to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento, along with the mountain lion's body, for DNA analysis, Bringman said. He said wildlife forensics specialists will test the samples to confirm whether the deceased cat was responsible for the attack.

Bringman said mountain lion attacks are extremely rare and this is the first in more than 20 years in San Diego county.

“Mountain lions are not social animals,” he said. “They’re very shy animals and nine times out of 10 you will never see a mountain lion in your life. They usually go out at night or early morning.”

CDFW has a few tips for people if they ever do come in contact with a big cat.

“Don’t run — act as big as you can,” Bringman said. “Shout or throw rocks.”

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