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.
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.