San Diego

DNA Confirms Mountain Lion Killed by Wildlife Officials Attacked Boy

DNA analysis "conclusively proves" the mountain lion was the animal that attacked a boy in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve on Monday, May 27

DNA analysis "conclusively proves" the mountain lion killed by wildlife officials this week was the animal that attacked a boy in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials confirmed Friday.

Results from the mountain lion matched the genetic profile of the animal that attacked the 4-year-old boy on Memorial Day, wildlife officials said.

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 child escaped with non-life threatening injuries. He was rushed to Rady Children's Hospital for treatment. His family has requested that updates on his condition not be released to the media.

NBC 7's Dave Summers saw hikers and cyclist enter the trail after caution tape and warning signs were put up.

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 in a written release Friday.

The female mountain lion was shot and killed by wildlife officers. 

Samples from the clothing of the child as well as scrapings from underneath the mountain lion's claws were sent for testing. 

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

The boy was, "Extremely lucky, I mean an 80-pound lion could really did some damage and luckily the dad was there and fended off the animal," he said.

Bringman said it was unusual that the animal returned to the same area just hours after the attack. Mountain lions are not typically spotted, even though they live in the area. 

"Once it attacks somebody, and based on the evidence that this animal being habituated, wasn’t scared of the wardens, it is a problem. We do not relocate them because that animal will be a problem somewhere else," he said. 

Officials said the four-year-old boy was "extremely lucky" after a possible mountain lion attack.

The last time a mountain lion attacked in San Diego County was in Dec. 1994, when a 56-year-old woman was killed at Cuyamaca State Park, according to the DFW. The only other attack dating back to 1986 was of a 10-year-old girl in Sept. 1993. 

The preserve is located between Rancho Penasquitos and Sorrento Hills, just north of Mira Mesa. It covers seven miles between the merge of Interstates 5 and 805 to just east of Interstate 15. 

Bobcats and coyotes are known to live in the preserve. Residents hike through the area to see a waterfall, a freshwater marsh and a grove of sycamore trees. 

With the addition of housing into the foothills in San Diego County, there have been an increasing number of reports of wildlife spotted in yards and near homes.

In October, one resident in Chula Vista contacted the state and the federal government when she noticed four bobcats in her Eastlake neighborhood.

One Poway homeowner shared video with NBC 7 after she said she spotted two mountain lions in her yard in July.

That same month two bobcats activated a Carmel Valley resident's home-security motion lights and could be seen jumping around playing with their dinner. The woman said they were in their backyard for about three hours overnight.

Some of the most striking video NBC San Diego received in 2018 showing a big cat near humans was the curious bobcat captured outside the Anza Borrego Desert Research Center.

In all of these reported incidents over the last two years, no humans were injured in the interaction. 

In September 2016, a Carmel Valley woman was bitten by a bobcat that she had picked up when she saw it was injured. 

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