LAKE FOREST (CBSLA/AP) – Authorities say a 3-year-old boy is doing okay after being attacked by a mountain lion in an Orange County wilderness park.

The Orange County Fire Authority says the attack occurred Monday in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park when a family of six was walking down a hiking trail. The lion attacked the child, grabbing him by the neck, according to officials.

The boy was airlifted to CHOC Childrens at Mission Hospital and was later discharged after being treated for minor injuries.

In a media briefing Tuesday, Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said despite the shocking attack, such incidents are “extraordinarily rare.”

According to Foy, despite the presence of anywhere between 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions statewide, there have been only 16 attacks involving the animals in nearly a century of record-keeping, three of which were fatal.

“Statistics will tell you that driving to the park to go on your hike is far more risky than your risk of being attacked by a lion once you get to the park,” Foy said.

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

He said the children were all under “immediate supervision” prior to the attack.

If hikers are ever confronted by a mountain lion, Roy says to stand tall, shout aggressively, and if possible to throw rocks or other objects at the animal. If you have small children, pick them up before making any gestures toward the lion, Roy suggested.

He also warned hikers to never turn their backs on the animal and run, but rather to slowly walk backwards until a safe distance is reached – which is exactly how Roy says the family reacted prior to Monday’s attack.

Comments (2)
  1. Heather C says:

    It’s called a Wilderness Park. What do people expect! If you don’t expect there to be wildlife in a wilderness park you’re an idiot. Stay inside.

  2. Morgan K says:

    My house backs up to Whiting Ranch and my 3 year old son and myself were in our backyard when we heard the Helicopter over the loud speaker to evacuate the area. After we came inside and found out what happened we were so sad for the young boy and mountain lion that was murdered. It’s so sad that these poor animals have no where to go. We have taken over so much of their homes already by building our homes but then we kill them when they are in the wild. THEIR HOME! There has to be a better way to protect people and these lions. The lion could have been moved or put in a wild life rescue. And we need to start informing the public that CHOOSES to go into a wilderness park how to protect themselves from being attacked. And that they take on the risk of being attacked since they are entering these animals Homes. In this type of news please not only address the attack but address how we can protect ourselves and the outrage that we killed this animal in IT’S HOME. It wasn’t going into a residential area or business. It was in it’s home and released the boy after it realized it he was human. We need to ask ourselves is this the right thing to do. If the animal will be killed in it’s own home where are they supposed to go? If we want to enjoy the beauty of the wilderness we need to be willing to protect it and all the amazing creatures in it so they don’t go extinct. I think we can all agree that we should value all life.

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