Wildlife officials say the search for a mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy at a park in California has ended. At this time, the mountain lion is still on the loose.
According to California Fish and Wildlife Captain Foy, officers left Pico Canyon Park on Saturday, and the park was closed. “CDFW personnel did NOT catch a mountain lion,” Foy admitted about the six-day pursuit.
Officials later said in a statement that the animal was no longer in the park and that “there was no sign of it returning.” The young victim, later identified as Knightley Quintos, was bitten by the mountain lion on Sept. 26 as he went up a flight of stairs in the park.
Thankfully, the young boy’s father was close by when the attack occurred and scared off the animal, officials said following the incident. The boy was not seriously injured during the incident, but emergency officials took him to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Once at the hospital, medical staff swabbed the wounds to see if there was any DNA from the mountain lion. Later, doctors sent those samples to a lab for testing, and the results are expected to be back sometime this week.
The father added that the cougar didn’t appear to be wearing a GPS collar from the National Park Service, which watches and studies big cats in Southern California.
“The little guy got a little bit ahead of the dad, and next thing you know the dad heard a cry out from the son, and the dad responded and saw a mountain lion in the process of attacking his son,” Foy said on Sept. 28.
Foy also said that mountain lion attacks are rare, with only two reported incidents happening so far this year.
Mountain Lions: What to do if you come across one of these big cats
According to reports, about 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions roam the state of California. However, wildlife officials believe that is a modest estimate without an ongoing statewide study. In addition, more than half of the state is considered ripe habitat for the big cats. They’re also present wherever deer are present.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife receives hundreds of reports of mountain lion sightings every year. However, few of these sightings have threatened the public’s safety, per the agency. In reality, attacks are extremely rare as these animals naturally try to avoid humans.
If you happen to come across a mountain lion, wildlife experts recommend that you never approach the animal. Always stay alert and avoid outdoor activities when they’re most active at dawn, dusk, and night.
Finally, you mustn’t run if you come across a mountain lion. Running may trigger a chase, catch and kill response. In addition, do not turn your back. Instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms.