Wildlife officers and forensics scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have concluded their investigation of the mountain lion attack at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County. A complete mountain lion genetic profile was obtained from the samples collected from the young boy who was attacked on Memorial Day, which was found to be identical to the profile obtained from the mountain lion killed the day of the incident. This DNA analysis conclusively proves the mountain lion is the exact one that attacked the victim.
On Monday, May 27, in the afternoon, wildlife officers responded to the park where the 4-year-old boy was being treated by San Diego Fire-Rescue after sustaining a non-life-threatening injury consistent with a mountain lion attack. The boy was part of a group of 11 people recreating in the park at the time.
The wildlife officers identified mountain lion tracks at the scene. Very shortly thereafter and in the same area, a mountain lion approached the officers. The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion. The wildlife officers immediately killed the animal to ensure public safety and to collect forensic evidence to potentially match the mountain lion to the victim. The officers collected clothing and other samples from the boy. Those samples, plus scrapings from underneath the mountain lion’s claws, were sent to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento for DNA analysis.
CDFW emphasizes that despite this incident, the probability of being attacked by a mountain lion is very low. The last confirmed lion attack in California (which was also non-fatal) occurred in 2014. For more information on how to co-exist with mountain lions and other wildlife in California, and what to do if confronted by a threatening wild animal, go to the CDFW Keep Me Wild webpage.