Mountain lion attacks 7-year-old boy in Southern California park

Wildlife officials on Wednesday tracked down a mountain lion that attacked a 7-year-old boy and prompted the closure of a sprawling park in Southern California, officials said.

The boy and his father were walking up the stairs at Pico Canyon Park near Santa Clarita late Monday when a mountain lion came out of the brush and bit the boy in the buttocks, said Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. .

Foy said the father, who was walking behind, heard his son scream and charged at the big cat. “The lion broke loose and retreated into the brush,” he said.

The boy was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Foy said.

“It was quite a traumatic episode for him, but he is expected to be fine,” she said.

Wildlife officials took samples from the bite wound to confirm a mountain lion was responsible and to obtain a DNA profile of the animal.

The father said the cougar did not appear to be wearing a GPS collar from the National Park Service, which tracks and studies big cats in southern California. The park service said it does not have a collared mountain lion in the area and that the park is outside its zone of investigation, according to Foy.

Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. There have been about 20 confirmed attacks in California in 110 years of records, he said.

Fish and Wildlife officials surveyed the area and set up bait boxes to try to catch the mountain lion in the park in the foothills about 35 miles (56 kilometers) northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The park remained closed on Wednesday.