A California mother has been hailed as a “true hero” after punching a 65-pound mountain lion to save her five-year-old son on Thursday.
The boy was playing by a tree near his home in Calabasas, Los Angeles when the mountain lion pounced on him and “dragged him about 45 yards,” Captain Patrick Foy, a spokesman with the California department of fish and wildlife, said, according to The Guardian.
The mother, who has not been named, was inside the house when she heard her son scream. She rushed out and started “punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy said.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” he added, according to The Guardian.
The boy’s parents rushed him to a Los Angeles hospital where he was treated for injuries to his head, neck, and upper torso. Officials said he is now in stable condition.
Wildlife officers, who were sent to the scene, found the same mountain lion hiding in a bush with its “ears back and hissing,” Foy said. They ended up shooting and killing it.
A statement on the website of the California Wildlife Department said: “Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on site.”
There have been four validated mountain lion attacks in California since 2019, CBS LA reported.
Ana Beatriz Cholo, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, told The Los Angeles Times that people hiking in the mountains should be aware that they could encounter mountain lions.
“Do not turn around and run away,” she said, according to The Times. “Keep kids close by. Put them on your shoulders. Try to look bigger than you are. If it doesn’t work and the mountain lion doesn’t leave, you need to be more assertive.”
Cholo also praised the boy’s mother for her action. “She fought back,” she said, according to The Times. “She used her bare hands. If you have a rock or stick, use that.”
In October 2020, a trail runner in Utah filmed his encounter with a protective mountain lion mother, who chased him for six minutes after he got too close to her cubs.
A few months earlier, another jogger was running in Colorado when he was also attacked by a mountain lion, which he subsequently killed by jamming his foot into the lion’s neck and suffocating it.