Heroic mother saves son from uncommon mountain lion attack using only her bare hands

An illustration taken from page 45 of “Yosemite nature notes” (1922) by Prelinger Library

A mountain lion attacked a 5-year-old boy outside his home in Calabasas, California on Thursday, Aug. 27. The young boy was playing in the front yard of his home when a 65-pound mountain lion attacked him and “dragged him about 45 yards,” said Capt. Patrick Foy from the California Department Fish and Wildlife. Fortunately, his mother heard the commotion and ran out to save her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” Foy told the Associated Press. “She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son.”

The boy suffered multiple injuries to his head and torso and was immediately transported to the nearest hospital. None of his wounds were fatal and the boy is currently in stable condition. Law enforcement has since tracked the animal down and killed it. A second mountain lion was found nearby and was safely relocated.

Such an unfortunate situation is a living nightmare for any parent. Some may consider areas, like cities and suburbs, to be safe from large wild animals that could bring serious harm. These assumptions are incorrect and incidents like these are becoming more and more common as civilization continues to spread.

Territories that were once occupied by nobody are now being converted into buildings and pavement and the wildlife have no choice but to invade streets and neighborhoods. Typically, mountain lions are “solitary creatures and usually avoid people,” according to director Andy Blue of the Ramona Wildlife Campus in San Diego.

A mountain lion’s diet consists of a variety of animals, but their main food is deer. They’ll typically hang around areas where deer are abundant with plenty of water and shelter. Not many may be found within Orange County but the possibility of encountering one is never zero percent.

It’s pretty rare to get mountain lion sightings, but they do happen on occasion,” said Sergeant Ryan Anderson, an Orange County public information officer.

There have been five official mountain lion attacks in Orange County recorded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The last recorded mountain lion attack took place in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park back in January 2020. The victim was a 3-year-old boy who suffered a bite to the neck. He ended up ok but the park did close for a while after the incident.

The majority of attacks have taken place in wildlife parks and reserves, suggesting that hikers and mountain bikers are at greater risk of encountering a mountain lion while on a trail. If a person can, it is recommended to go with a group to lessen the chances of getting targeted by a mountain lion. Mountain lions are protected by the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 and may not be killed without a permit so the best a person can do, should they come across one, is to try to scare it off.

“You really don’t want to run since that’ll initiate their predator instincts. You’ll want to look as large as you can,” said Blue. “It’s best to just wave your hands and arms and yell and clap. Just make a lot of commotion.”

If looking big is not enough to scare the mountain lion away, it is recommended to throw stuff, like branches and stones, in its direction. Just be careful not to hit it directly since the goal is to show you are able to defend yourself and not harm the animal.

Should you encounter a mountain lion, immediately report the sighting or encounter to your local animal services center or call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (949)-770-6011.


Updated Dec. 20 at 9:07 p.m. to add quote.