A mountain lion suspected of attacking a four-year-old boy in a San Diego nature preserve has been killed by wildlife officers.
The boy was hospitalised following the attack on Monday and was treated for head injuries that were not life-threatening, an official in California said.
He was part of a group of six adults and five children at Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, a 3,700-acre strip of nature meandering through neighbourhoods about 20 miles (32km) north of downtown San Diego.
The boy was in the middle of the group, which scattered at the time of the attack, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt Scott Bringman said at a news conference.
“The father, who should be commended, threw rocks and the animal left the scene,” he added.
San Diego Fire-Rescue reported the attack and wildlife officers discovered mountain lion tracks a few hours later.
“While they were at the scene, the mountain lion came to the location about 7pm at night,” Lt Bringman said.
“The animal did not appear to be scared of the wardens, which is an indication the animal is habituated, so at that point in time, the animal was euthanised.”
The mountain lion is said to be an adult female weighing 80lbs (36kg), and will be tested for DNA from the victim.
The boy’s clothing and bandages will be tested for DNA from the lion.
Lt Bringman added: “Hopefully, we do have the animal which did attack the kid.”
The preserve will be closed until results of the tests are completed, likely within a few days.
It has been more than 20 years since a mountain lion attacked a person in San Diego County, Lt Bringman said, adding that attacks are “extremely rare”.
While the lions are present but rarely seen, children have previously been attacked by the animals.
In 1986, five-year-old Laura Small was mauled at Ronald W Caspers Regional Park in Orange County.
A few months later, six-year-old Justin Mellon was grabbed by a lion and rescued by his father who used a hunting knife to fend off the animal.
Source: SKY NEWS