Authorities confirmed killing a mountain lion that forensic investigators found to be responsible for attacking and injuring a 4-year-old boy at a San Diego park on Memorial Day, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday.
DNA collected from the little boy was a match to the genetic profile taken from the mountain lion killed the day of the incident, the state agency said in a news release.
“This DNA analysis conclusively proves the mountain lion is the exact one that attacked the victim,” wildlife officials said.
The boy was attacked at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve at around 2:30 p.m. while he was with a group of six adults and five children, authorities said.
The boy’s father threw rocks at the mountain lion until it retreated from the area, Lt. Scott Bringman of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel arrived at the scene and treated the child for not life-threatening injuries that were consistent with a mountain lion attack and he was transported to a hospital for head injuries, according to Bringman.
Shortly after the attack, a mountain lion approached wildlife officers investigating in the area and “appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion,” wildlife officials said.
“The wildlife officers immediately killed the animal to ensure public safety and to collect forensic evidence to potentially match the mountain lion to the victim,” the state agency said.
Scrapings from underneath the mountain lion’s claws were sent to a forensics laboratory in Sacramento for testing.
Officials reminded residents that the probability of being attacked by a mountain lion is very low and that the last confirmed lion attack in California happened in 2014 and was not fatal.
The last attack in San Diego county happened more than two decades ago in 1994, when a 56-year-old woman was killed at Cuyamaca State Park, KTLA affiliate KSWB reported.