4-Year-Old Boy Attacked By Mountain Lion Had ‘Severe Head Wounds'

"It appears the lion was hungry and saw the boy as prey," the wildlife official said

A 4-year-old boy who was attacked by a mountain lion in Rancho Peñasquitos had severe lacerations on his head and a bite wound on his leg, investigators said. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife gave an exclusive update to NBC 7 Tuesday about the condition of the boy. 

The boy had to get stitches in his head from the trauma, that Capt. Patrick Foy of Fish and Wildlife defined as "very severe." 

"When lions attack prey, they attack at the head and neck region," said Captain Foy. "Scalp tears are one of the indicators we're dealing with a lion." 

After a day and a half stay at Rady Children's Hospital the boy was released and is expected to make a full recovery. 

The boy was hiking with a group of six adults and five children in the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, in an area known as Carson's Crossing at the center of the preserve, when the animal attacked at about 2:30 p.m., SDFD Battalion Chief Rick Ballard told NBC 7.

The boy's father "threw rocks and the animal left the scene," said CDFW spokesperson Lt. Scott Bringman.  

The child escaped with non-life threatening injuries and was rushed to the hospital.

The boy was, "Extremely lucky, I mean a lion could really did some damage and luckily the dad was there and fended off the animal," Bringman said.

Neighbors said that the boy and his family live nearby and used the popular trail regularly. 

The 80-pound male mountain lion was identified when Fish and Wildlife extracted its saliva from the lower pant leg and sock of the boy where puncture wounds were. 

"All 18 of the genetic markers we were looking for matched up," said Foy. "It appears the lion was hungry and saw the boy as prey." 

The day after the attack, wildlife officials spotted tracks of a mountain lion and were then approached by a mountain lion in the same area of the attack.

"The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion," officials said. 

The mountain lion was shot and killed by wildlife officers. 

"The good news is that the rabies test came back negative," Foy added. 

Attacks like this are extremely rare. The last time a mountain lion attacked a human in California was in September 2014 when a 6-year-old boy was bit in Cupertino. That boy made a full recovery. 

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