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Mountain Lion Attacks Camper In Sleeping Bag

A mountain lion (Photo by Rosalie Kreulen via Shutterstock)
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A man is recovering in the hospital after surviving what sounds like a nasty mountain lion attack in Riverside County.

The 50-year-old man was camping in a homeless encampment near Highway 74 just west of Perris on Saturday night, when he was attacked by a creature around 8 p.m, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. The man was in his sleeping bag when he was attacked. He was able to go to a nearby house and call for help.

Authorities say he's lucky to be alive. His head, neck, back, front and arms were covered with puncture wounds, bite marks and lacerations. The man wasn't sure exactly what kind of creature mauled him, but authorities with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife say that his injuries are consistent with a mountain lion. Lt. Patrick Foy with the department told the Press Enterprise that there's little doubt: "We are about 99 percent [sure] that it was a lion. The conclusion is based solely on the victim’s injuries and the extent of the injuries.”

Mountain lion attacks are pretty rare, and this attack is the first of its kind in Perris. This table shows 14 confirmed mountain lion attacks in California since 1986; three of them were fatal. Only one happened in Los Angeles County—none happened in Riverside County.

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The mountain lion that apparently attacked the man hasn't been found, but authorities set traps in the area of the attack. DNA samples have been taken from the man and will be used to match the lion to the victim. If authorities do find the mountain lion, they plan to kill it. The department told the Los Angeles Times that it doesn't relocate lions, because the lions create conflicts in its new habitat or they return to their old haunts anyway.

CDFW Assistant Chief Dan Sforza said, in a statement, "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. We are asking nearby residents to be aware there is a lion in the area and to be careful with their pets and children."

The Department of Fish and Game has advice if you do encounter a mountain lion: do not approach it but don't run either. Face the animal, make a lot of noise and wave your arms to look big. Throw rocks or any objects you can find at it. If you've got a small child, pick it up. And if you are attacked, fight back.