A 50-year-old homeless man living in Southern California is believed to have been attacked by a mountain lion after he was found with multiple injuries. According to game wardens with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), the unnamed man was taken to a hospital in Riverside County on Saturday morning with multiple lacerations, bite marks, and puncture wounds. The man underwent surgery on Saturday night but his condition is unknown.
“We are about 99 percent that it was a lion,” wildlife officer Patrick Foy told The Press-Enterprise. “The conclusion is based solely on the victim’s injuries and the extent of the injuries.”
Shortly after the injured man was discovered, officers and biologists from the DFW arrived at the site of the attack and set bait traps for any mountain lions still in the area. Samples were collected from the victim to match against samples from any captured animals. DFW Assistant Chief Dan Sforza said that the department intends on destroying the animal involved in the attack.
“The first priority of any law enforcement agency is the safety of the public and we are doing everything we can to find and capture this animal before it can harm anyone else,” Sforza stated. “We are asking nearby residents to be aware there is a lion in the area and to be careful with their pets and children.”
Mountain lion attacks are rare occurrences. In fact, this incident marks only the 15th verified attack on humans in the state since 1986. Of those attacks, three proved to be fatal. Mountain lions are more likely to come into conflict with pets and livestock, but usually give humans a wide berth. Unprovoked attacks, as this case appears to be, are rarer still.
“The lion attacked him while he was lying in his sleeping bag,” Foy said.
The last recorded mountain lion attack in state occurred in July 2012 in Nevada County. The victim of that attack, a 63-year-old-man, survived.
Image courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife