3-Year-Old Boy Attacked by Mountain Lion at Wilderness Park in Lake Forest; Lion Killed

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Authorities killed a mountain lion after it attacked and injured a 3-year-old boy who suffered “severe wounds” to the neck at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Lake Forest on Monday afternoon, officials said.

The young victim was hospitalized in stable condition following the attack, which was reported just after 4:15 p.m. at the park, according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.

A mountain lion is seen carrying a backpack in Whiting Ranch on Jan. 20, 2020. (Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Department)
A mountain lion is seen carrying a backpack in Whiting Ranch on Jan. 20, 2020. (Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

The lion grabbed the child by the neck during the attack, Bommarito said. Authorities evacuated the park as they sought the lion, which was seen on a tree with a backpack in its mouth.

Responding deputies were told that after the mountain lion grabbed the child, the boy’s father threw a backpack at the animal and it let go of the child, Orange County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.

The child had severe neck injuries consistent with a mountain lion attack, according to Capt. Patrick Foy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wildlife officials were summoned to the scene, and the lion was soon tracked down.

“Fish and Wildlife gave local law enforcement the approval to euthanize the lion due to the public safety threat,” fire officials said in a written statement.

Swabs will be taken from the child’s wounds and from the mountain lion in an attempt to find a DNA match, Foy said.

No further details were immediately available.

Two other mountain lion attacks have been reported at the park, which is along Glenn Ranch Road. Both attacks took place in January 2004, according to state records. One claimed the life of a 35-year-old man, while the other left a 30-year-old woman injured.

The most recent confirmed attack by a mountain lion on a human in California took place in May at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego. A 4-year-old child was injured in that attack.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park was expected to remain closed through at least noon Tuesday.

KTLA’s Jose Duran contributed to this report.

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