SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California wildlife officials confirmed Friday that a mountain lion they shot and killed is the same one that attacked a 6-year-old boy on a hiking trail.
DNA testing on the slain mountain lion was completed late Thursday as results also determined the big cat didn't have rabies or any other diseases, said Lt. Patrick Foy, a California Fish and Wildlife spokesman.
"Yes, indeed it was the cat. We are 100 percent certain," Foy said. "Our primary concern was that it may have rabies, but it did not. It was pretty healthy."
After four days of scouring rugged terrain, searchers and dogs surrounded the 74-pound, 2-year-old mountain lion in a 70-foot tree Wednesday before killing it about 130 yards from the attack site on a trail near the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino. Officials defended the decision to kill the juvenile cat instead of trying to bring it in alive because it was deemed a threat to public safety, said state wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey.
The injured boy was released from the hospital on Monday, a day after he suffered bite wounds and scratches on his head and neck while hiking with his family and others. The boy's father told investigators his son was about 10 feet ahead of the group when the cougar appeared from nowhere and attacked. The boy's name has not been released.
Foy said the mountain lion mauled the boy in a manner similar to the way it would a group of deer by targeting the easiest prey, usually the smallest member. The lion dragged the boy into some brush before his father and the other male adult in the hiking group shouted and acted aggressively toward the animal, scaring it away.
"There's no way of putting ourselves into the mind of this animal other than he simply saw the boy as prey," Foy said.
The boy's father said his son's condition is improving each day and he is relieved that the right mountain lion had been found, Foy said.
"It was the conclusion we all had hoped for," Foy said. "The threat has been removed. This incident is officially over."