Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) responded to a report of a mountain lion attack in Trinity County on May 16, 2022. The incident occurred approximately 3:00 p.m. along State Route 299 near Big Bar.
A woman was driving on State Route 299 when she stopped beside the road near a picnic area and exited the vehicle with her dog. She began walking down a path with the dog slightly ahead of her. She noticed movement beside her as a mountain lion swiped her across her left shoulder, causing injury. She screamed and her dog, a Belgian Malinois, immediately returned and engaged the mountain lion. The mountain lion bit the dog’s head and would not let go. The woman attempted to throw rocks, tug and pull them apart, and even attempted to gouge the eyes out of the lion, to no avail.
The woman went back up to the road and flagged down a passing vehicle. A passerby stopped, retrieved a can of pepper spray and sprayed the lion in the face with little to no effect. The mountain lion was attempting to move off the trail and drag the dog to a different location. The woman and the passerby eventually retrieved a piece of PVC pipe and began hitting the mountain lion with it until it finally released the dog.
The woman drove her dog straight to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. The dog’s condition is guarded, and it is unknown if she will survive. The woman then drove herself to receive medical treatment in Redding. Her injuries consist of bite wounds, scratches, bruises and abrasions, but are non-life threatening.
Wildlife officers have interviewed the victim, the passerby, the veterinarian and the emergency medical physician, and have worked with each of them to collect appropriate samples for analysis. The samples were delivered to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento and are being processed. Although DNA analysis from samples taken during the investigation are the most reliable way to conclusively prove an attack has occurred, initial evidence from the investigation is strong enough to allow wildlife officers to treat the investigation as a legitimate attack.
Those in the area should be aware that CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division is working with allied agency partners to trap the offending mountain lion and will further evaluate the situation if it is caught. As a reminder, people should always be vigilant when recreating in mountain lion habitat.