HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — California wildlife officials have called off the search for a mountain lion that attacked a 5-year-old boy who was on a hiking trail in rural Northern California, saying there was little chance of capturing the animal.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday that DNA testing confirmed that a mountain lion was responsible for the attack last Tuesday in San Mateo County, south of San Francisco.
But efforts to track down and capture the lion were hampered because investigators have been denied access to private property near the attack site.
“This lack of access, combined with worsening weather and the nomadic nature of mountain lions has diminished the chances for a successful capture,” said Capt. Patrick Foy, a department spokesman.
Shortly before 7 p.m. Tuesday, the boy was on the trail along Tunitas Creek Road and had raced ahead of his mother and grandparents when the big cat pounced on him and pinned him to the ground, authorities and family members said.
His mother, Suzie Trexler, charged the cougar and it let the boy go and ran off.
The boy wasn’t bitten, Foy said. However, his face was scratched and he had a fractured bone near his eye, his aunt, Amie Wagner, told the Chronicle.
He was treated at a local hospital.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. About 20 confirmed attacks have occurred in California in more than a century of record-keeping, and only three have been fatal, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Last September, a 7-year-old boy was bitten by a mountain lion while walking with his father around dusk in a park near Santa Clarita in Southern California. The father scared the animal away, and the child was treated for relatively minor wounds.
The last incident before Tuesday’s occurred in September when a cougar attacked a 7-year-old boy in Pico Canyon Park in Los Angeles County. That child also survived.