LAKE FOREST (CBSLA) — A 3-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion Monday afternoon, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

After the attack, the mountain lion retreated to a tree with a backpack between its teeth. (Credit: Landon Wright)

The attack happened in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Lake Forest at about 4:15 p.m.

According to the OCFA, a family of six was walking down a hiking trail when a mountain lion attacked the child, grabbing him by the neck.

“The mountain lion came out of somewhere, attacked the 3-year-old, grabbed him by the neck and started dragging him,” a spokesperson for OCFA said.

That’s when the father of the child threw a backpack to distract the animal. The mountain lion then dropped the child, picked up the backpack and went up into a tree.

“She had her son in her arms,” Landon Wright, a witness, said. “The son was kind of crying and a little scared.”

The child was airlifted to CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital. He was discharged after being treated for minor injuries.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department evacuated and closed the park following the attack.

OC deputies, with the approval of California Department of Fish and Wildlife, killed the mountain lion due to a threat to public safety, the department said. Its body was being taken up to Sacramento to be tested.

Comments (19)
  1. Anthony says:

    As tragic as this is the lion should not have been put down, what do people think will happen when they encroach upon a wild animals territory??? Little kids scurrying about mimic prey, the lion was only doing what is natural to them. JMHO

    1. MilouTintin says:

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but people do come first. If a wild animal demonstrates no fear of people and aggressive behavior, it’s going to be put down. The park is widely frequented by families. It’s not as if they went hiking into wilderness territory.

      1. ben says:

        Milou TinTin ~~I don’t think you know very much about this place. The entire Canyon area has wildlife and mountain lions are forced out from their previous habitats due to a variety of factors…all of which are human sponsored.:-(

  2. ben says:

    Whiting Ranch is a Wilderness Park with multiple warning signs of natural wildlife in the area. This could have been so much worse for that little 3yo! His Dad was quick on his feet to be sure. Yet it sounds like the small child may have been running ahead or straggling behind the rest. People are NOT a mountain lion’s usual or favorite prey. This one lost its’ life. I foresee a bad moon rising for this dwindling majestic big cat species.

    1. John says:

      It’s a big misconception that mountain lions numbers are dwindling. They are thriving. It’s sad when a lion has to be put down like this, but it must be done to protect people. People’s lives always come first.

  3. Linda jones says:

    I am a wildlife photographer and have hiked the oc canyons for years. The problem with this attack situation is people are idiots thinking they should be protected in a wildlife area. So many times I’ve seen families letting their children run ahead of them or lag behind the hiking group. I am always in disbelief and many times I have warned them. But the humans don’t have a clue. Nor do they bother educating themselves or read signs.

    Yes, the people to blame are the parents, not the animal. They should make a requirement of every human there to show a certificate of wildlife training before entering an area where wildlife live. It’s not a zoo!

    I once saw a toddler trying to keep up with his family not too far from a grizzly in Yellowstone!
    I am very sad for the loss of one of our beautiful lions, needlessly,

    1. Bob Red says:

      What a shame! Perhaps the parents should have been put down for being idiots. People suck!!!!

  4. Debbie Uecker-Keough says:

    Wait, we killed a wild animal because people are walking into their territory?!?! Thats tragic. Tranquilize the animal and relocate him further up Santiago mtn. The cat was doing exactly what he’d normally do, go after small prey. Parents need to be very careful walking little ones out into the wilderness. We have been destroying their habitat and now we have to destroy them? What a shame.

    1. Regina Taylor says:

      Yes, the mountain lion was put down – and rightfully saw. A human life, especially a child’s, is infinitely more precious than a wild animal’s.

  5. Justice says:

    Shame on department of wild life. Do not bring children to areas where mountain lions could be.

  6. Joe says:

    There have been several mountain lion attacks at Whiting Ranch in the past including at least one death. I’ve seen lions many times while mountain biking there. There are signs warning of this at each entrance. It’s going to happen again unless people take precautions and are very careful.

  7. Jeffery White says:

    I seem to remember the last “attack” nearby in Orange County. Wasn’t a mountain biker off his bike bending down looking small and vulnerable and then attacked another biker?
    Unfortunately, both look like moving prey. It’s a natural instinct.
    That’s why they say don’t run and look big with hands up.
    Sad for this mountain lion as we encroach on THEIR habitat.

  8. Phil says:

    Small prey? A friends horse was attacked in the hills of San Juan Cap. In 1967.

  9. Michael Miller says:

    It’s not THEIR territory anymore than it’s mine, yours or the little boy who was attacked. The cat obviously didn’t have a natural fear of humans and because of this it has to be put down.

  10. Roberto says:

    Hello Kittylunch!
    It’s just a cat, doing what cats do. They kill and eat. Their “range” includes every bit of land where they are not hunted and harassed. They eat domestic pets and animals, cattle, large herbivores, small carnivores, omnivores. And yes, occasionally those critters who walk upright on two legs. Within their range, other primates become very excited when a large cat shows up, and with danmed good reason. Cats, big or small, eat anything they can kill. And they are very efficient killing machines. If you’ve ever been stalked by a big kitty and you can read this, you were probably not aware at the time. I have found their footprints covering mine in a 10 minute time span. The discovery put a whole new light on “wild places.” Even in towns, they are silent shadows.

  11. Naleeya says:

    It makes me sad that a mountain lion who was roaming in its very limited natural habitat was put down. When we look at the state of our planet, most humans are the ones destroying and disrespecting nature and it’s wild life. There were clear warning signs of potential risk that mountain lions and many other wild animals live there prior to entering this canyon. We should have relocated the mountain lion so it had bigger space further away from humans hiking instead of killing it. Perhaps we can consider putting down more of the rapist, murderers, human traffickers, child molesters, abusers, racist etc and minimize the risk of other human lives from one another. We are so quick to kill an innocent animal that was just being what it’s meant to be yet a person is innocent until proven guilty even though there are evidence to support the crime. Don’t get me wrong it’s scary to have your little one in danger but we must look at this entire situation as a whole and make better decisions for Mother Nature and her wild life children. May the mountain lion rest in peace and roam free now.

Leave a Reply