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Dad fights off possible mountain lion to save 4-year-old son, San Diego officials say

What do to if you meet a mountain lion

​​Mountain lions are generally calm, quiet, and elusive. People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.
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​​Mountain lions are generally calm, quiet, and elusive. People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild. Lion attacks on people are rare, with fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years.

A San Diego father saved his 4-year-old son from a mountain lion or bobcat Monday afternoon by kicking the animal and throwing rocks at it, KGTV reports.

San Diego fire officials say it’s unclear what kind of big cat attacked the boy about 2:30 p.m. at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

But game wardens later tracked and killed a mountain lion suspected in the attack, NBC News reported.

The mountain lion showed no fear of humans, which California Fish and Wildlife Department officials called unusual, and had its ears back, a sign of aggression, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The officers killed it with a shotgun.

The boy was hiking with 11 other people at the canyon when the cat attacked, scattering the other hikers except for the child’s father, said Lt. Scott Bringman of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, NBC News reported.

“An 80 pound lion could really do some damage, and luckily the dad was there and fended off the animal,” Bringman said, according to the network.

Firefighters took the 4-year-old to a children’s hospital, but released no information on the extent of the child’s injuries, KSWB reported.

KGTV reported the child’s head was injured in the attack, which took place near a waterfall, but he was conscious when paramedics arrived.

On Tuesday, the boy’s family released a statement, which said “he was in good condition and would soon be released” from the hospital, according to KGTV.

The trailhead at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve has been marked off with caution tape, and neighbors say signs warning about dangerous wildlife often are posted on the trail, KNSD reported.

The trail will remain closed until lab tests can confirm whether the slain mountain lion attacked the boy, NBC News reported.

“We walk in this canyon all the time, so it is a bit scary that you can get attacked like that,” said resident Marcela Reices, according to the station.

A Southern California mountain lion who managed to cross the 101 freeway twice, was found dead recently at 3 years old, according to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area officials. This video shows him rubbing his cheek against a rock.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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