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Cougar Was Dragging Boy by the Neck. Then, a Distraction

Animal, found with backpack hurled by father, is euthanized
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2020 9:25 AM CST
This June 2015 remote camera image shows a female mountain lion roaming in the Santa Monica Mountains of California.   (National Park Service via AP)

(Newser) – A 3-year-old boy is recovering in Southern California after a mountain lion bit him on the neck. The boy was leading his family—two adults and three other children—on a walk through Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Lake Forest around 4pm Monday when the cougar appeared, seized the boy by the neck, and started dragging him away, report the Los Angeles Times and CNN. However, the cougar soon changed targets, grasping a backpack thrown by the boy's father. The boy was taken to a hospital with "severe wounds" to the neck while officials surrounded the mountain lion, who'd carried the backpack into a tree.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department said the animal was euthanized around 5:20pm "due to the threat to public safety." A rep for the California Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division said the boy, listed in stable condition, would be swabbed for DNA in the hope of confirming the lion had attacked him. The agency lists 15 people attacked by mountain lions in California since 1986. Two bikers were attacked in Whiting Ranch in January 2004, one fatally, per the Times, which notes the animal responsible was later killed. A 4-year-old was injured in the most recent confirmed attack at San Diego's Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve in May, per KTLA. (Read more mountain lion stories.)

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