New Details Emerge in Deadly Lion Attack on California Brothers

New Details Emerge in Deadly Lion Attack on California Brothers

A California hunter and angler saved his brother from a mountain lion last week only to have the cat turn and kill him, according to the family of the two young men.

The tragic story of a deadly lion attack rocketed around social media over the weekend, but few details were immediately available. The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying they’d received a report of a mountain lion attack around 1 pm on March 23, 2024. Deputies arrived on the scene a short time later, and they found one brother with serious wounds on his face and a lion crouched over the body of the other.

Now, the family of the victims has released a complete timeline of events along with the names and backgrounds of the young men involved.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks for the outpouring of support and prayers from family, friends and the community,” the Brooks/Welsh Family said in a press release obtained by MeatEater. “We are all devastated by the tragic loss of Taylen yet thankful Wyatt is still with us and are well-aware the outcome could have been even worse.”

What Happened?

Wyatt Jay Charles Brooks, 18, and his brother, Taylen Robert Claude Brooks, 21, were both avid outdoorsmen. They enjoyed hunting and fishing together “almost daily,” according to their family, and were shed hunting near the town of Georgetown, California, on the day of the incident.

“These two young men being as close as any two brothers could be, lived a full energetic life enjoying the outdoors,” the family said.

Malcolm Brooks, Wyatt and Taylen’s uncle, confirmed to MeatEater that the pair were “big time” hunters and anglers.

“Wyatt in particular. He’s got a couple Pope and Young-class blacktail bucks going back to when he was 13 or 14. It was in his blood. He was relentless. But both brothers were always hunting, always decoying ducks,” he said.

They had not brought firearms with them while shed hunting due to concern about the opening day of junior turkey season, but they carried a small backpack to collect any sheds they might find.

They were walking along a dirt road when they saw a mountain lion approaching.

“They raised their hands in the air to appear larger, yelled at the lion and Wyatt even threw his backpack at the lion, all in an attempt to scare the lion away,” the family said.

But the lion didn’t respond as expected. Instead of retreating, it continued to advance towards them.

To Malcolm Brooks, this is the most puzzling thing about this incident. “One of the most sobering dimensions of this is that the cat confronted them on a roadway in broad daylight and attacked two adult males. The anomaly aspect is pretty crazy,” he said.

The cat charged Wyatt, bit his face, and brought him to the ground. Taylen beat the lion with his fists in an attempt to save his brother, and Wyatt was able to roll on top of the cat. But the cougar strafed Wyatt’s midsection with its claws, and the 18-year-old released his grip at the same time as the lion let him go.

But instead of running away, the cat charged Taylen and bit him in the throat. Wyatt tried beating the lion to get him to release his brother, but the lion refused. Wyatt tried to call 911, but he didn’t have cell service, so he ran back to where their vehicle was parked to get help. He returned with the vehicle in the hopes that it would scare the lion away, but by the time he arrived, the lion and his brother were gone.

Wyatt drove back to meet the arriving deputies, who rendered first aid and took him to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the deputies searched the area until they found the cat, who was crouching near Taylen’s body. Not knowing whether Taylen was alive or dead, the deputies fired their guns in a safe direction, which scared the lion away.

The deputies approached Taylen and realized he had already succumbed to his injuries. They stayed with him to complete the investigation rather than pursue the lion, and later called in an El Dorado County Trapper to find and dispatch the animal. The trapper used hounds to track the lion approximately 100 yards from Taylen’s body, where it was treed and shot.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed it was the same animal that killed Taylen: a 90-pound male that “appeared to be in healthy condition.”

Wyatt was initially sent to Marshall Medical Hospital in Placerville, California, where he was evaluated and then transported to UC Davis Health in Sacramento for reconstructive surgery of the major lacerations to his face and neck. He is currently recuperating at home.

taylen According to the family, Taylen was "an extremely talented guitar player. He was a very kind and gentle soul and will be deeply missed by all who knew him."

What’s Next?

All mountain lion hunting in California was prohibited in 1991 with the passage via ballot initiative of the California Wildlife Protection Act. Prior to that, hound hunters could still go after cougars, and Malcolm Brooks believes these hunters played a vital role in managing the species and making cats afraid to approach humans.

“We need to return wildlife management to official wildlife management agencies that understand the full scope of how to handle populations of wild animals,” he told MeatEater. “It’s better off not only for the human population. It’s better for the managed wildlife population as well. Don’t replicate what California has done and allow a sentimental application of the law to supersede the authority of people who actually understand what these populations need to thrive.”

State biologists report there are between 3,200 and 4,500 cats in the state. This is the first confirmed fatality from a mountain lion attack in California since 2004.

The family has asked for privacy as they struggle through their loss, but they say that plans for a memorial for Taylen are being worked on, and details will be released as soon as they are finalized.

“A brother is a friend given by nature. These two brothers were driven by nature,” the family said.

Those seeking to support the Brooks/Welsh are asked to make a donation to the Brooks Brothers Support Fund at the El Dorado Community Foundation. All other donation pages are not affiliated with the family.

Feature image via Brooks/Welsh family, depicting Taylen on the left and Wyatt on the right.

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