California mountain lion shot dead confirmed as cat that attacked boy

By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A mountain lion that was shot out of a tree by California wildlife officers has been confirmed by DNA testing to be the same cat that attacked a 6-year-old boy earlier this week, state officials said on Friday. Samples of DNA taken from the 74-pound cougar during a necropsy and forensic examination matched saliva left on the boy's shirt following the encounter on Sunday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a written statement. Lab tests also determined that the mountain lion was about two years old, healthy and did not have rabies, the department said. The boy was hiking on a trail with family and friends in a densely wooded preserve adjacent to a winery, just west of the town of Cupertino, when the mountain lion pounced on him and tried to drag him away, his parents told officials. The boy's father and another man in the group rushed shouting at the animal, and it retreated into the woods. Wildlife experts spent three days tracking the mountain lion before it was found 130 yards away from the scene of the attack, 70 feet up a tree and shot dead. Officials said tranquilizing the cat was "not an option" and it would have been killed from the fall from in any event. Officials say no one at the department wanted to kill the animal but that it was not considered eligible for relocation because it had attacked a person. The boy, who has not been named, has since been released from the hospital and is recovering from his wounds. An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions live in California, according to the department. The cats are solitary, elusive creatures that tend to avoid people. Attacks on humans are rare. Sunday's incident marked the 14th documented attack in California dating back to March 1986. Only three were fatal. (Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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