“I think it’s very, very highly likely, but we can’t put a 100 percent stamp on it until we get the DNA,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Patrick Foy.
The lion was found little more than 100 yards from where it attacked the boy. It was acting aggressively. Using dogs, the search team trapped the lion in a tree about 70 feet high.
They hoped to capture it without killing it — but, at that height, a tranquilizer dart would mean a fatal fall for the animal, which was shot and killed instead.
“They were so close to the attack site,” Foy said. “We figured we’d better get it in hand.”
The boy, who was not named, has been released from the hospital. His father said the attack was unprovoked.
Mountain lions rarely attack people — the one who attacked the 6-year-old will be tested for rabies. They are endangered. According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, a nonprofit conservation group based in Sacramento, there are no more than 30,000 in the United States, and people kill about 3,000 per year.
Since 1986, there have been 13 attacks in California, resulting in three deaths.
“You, your pets, or your livestock are at much greater risk from automobiles, stray dogs, and lightning strikes than from mountain lions,” according to Web site of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Other words of wisdom from the department: If a mountain lion attacks, don’t play dead.
“Prepare to defend yourself using whatever weapons are available (including lethal),” according to the site. “Pepper spray may be effective if animal is close and downwind. If animal attacks, fight back!”
The fight won’t be easy. Adult male mountain lions can weigh in at 180 pounds and run up to 50 miles per hour.