At 10:45 a.m. on Aug 26, a mountain lion attacked a 5-year-old boy in his front yard in Calabasas, California. The cat dragged the boy about 45 yards before his mother heard a cry for help.
“The commotion caused by the attack and the boy’s screaming alerted the mom who was inside. She ran outside and immediately started striking and punching at the lion and managed to fend the lion off her son,” said Capt. Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The child sustained injuries to his head, neck, and upper torso but is in stable condition and recovering at the Children’s Hospital in nearby Los Angeles.
Wildlife officials quickly arrived at the scene and encountered an aggressive mountain lion crouched in the corner of the property. Due to the aggressive behavior the lion displayed and its proximity to the attack, a game warden killed the animal immediately for the sake of public safety.
Twenty minutes after officers shot the lion, two more appeared—one full-grown adult wearing a radio collar, the other a smaller, 65-pound cat similar in size to the dispatched lion. After confirming that the cougar responsible for the attack was not wearing a collar, officials used a non-lethal tranquilizing rifle to capture the other.
In collaboration with the National Park Service, wildlife officials were able to identify the collared lion as P-54, a female they documented birthing cubs in October of 2020. She had no previous human conflicts, and according to her collar readings, has since vacated the neighborhood.
DNA evidence collected from the dead and tranquilized cats along with the victim’s shirt confirmed that officials killed the correct lion. They collared and released the tranquilized lion in proximity to P-54 in suitable habitat.
A similar event occurred in Colorado two years ago, but there hasn’t been a reported incident involving a mountain lion attacking a human in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California for more than 20 years. Experts believe this attack occurred because the young lion was still learning to hunt and fend for itself, and the boy was small enough to look like prey.
The National Park Service encourages people to fight back if a mountain lion attacks them. “This mom’s an absolute hero who saved her son’s life, there’s no question about it,” Foy said.