A 4-year-old boy is lucky to have survived what's claimed to be the first cougar attack in California's San Diego County in more than 20 years. The boy and his family were with a group hiking in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve around 2:30pm Monday when the mountain lion appeared and the group scattered. That left only the boy, apparently in the cougar's grips, and his father, who threw rocks at the animal to scare it away, Fish and Wildlife officer Scott Bringman tells CNN. Witnesses also described seeing the father kick the animal, reports the Los Angeles Times.
As the boy was taken to Rady Children's Hospital with non-life-threatening head injuries—a rep describes him as in good condition, and likely to be released soon—officers attempted to track the animal. They eventually shot and killed an 80-pound female cougar found with her ears pinned back in a sign of aggression, who seemed unafraid of the humans, per the Times. The park will be closed until investigators confirm it's the animal that attacked the boy. It will be tested for his DNA, while his clothing will be analyzed for traces of the feline. Results are expected in a few days. (Read more mountain lion stories.)