SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — Wildlife officers were tracking a mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy and prompted the closure of a sprawling Southern California park, authorities said.
The child and his father were walking up stairs at Pico Canyon Park near Santa Clarita Monday evening when a cougar emerged from brush and bit the boy on the buttock, said Capt. Patrick Foy with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Foy said the father, who was walking behind, heard his son shout and charged toward the big cat, which fled back into the brush at the park in foothills about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles.
The boy was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. Wildlife officials sampled the bite wound to confirm that a mountain lion was responsible and to obtain a DNA profile of the animal.
The father said the cougar didn’t appear to be wearing a GPS collar from the National Park Service, which tracks and studies big cats in Southern California.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. Around 20 confirmed attacks have occurred in California in more than a century of record-keeping, Foy said.
As of Tuesday evening, the park remained closed while the California Department of Fish and Wildlife surveyed the area. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has assisted in the search for the mountain lion by setting a baited box trap, the Times reported.