California mountain lion attack leaves one person dead, one severely injured

Wildlife officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding a mountain lion attack in California Saturday that left one person dead and another seriously wounded. National Park Service.

March 24 (UPI) -- Wildlife officials are investigating a mountain lion attack in California that left one man dead and another severely injured. It's the first fatal mountain lion attack in the state in 20 years, officials said.

"A fatality like this is extremely rare," Kyle Parker, a spokesperson for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, told KCRA.

An 18-year-old man called police about 1:13 p.m. Saturday to report that he and his 21-year-old brother had been attacked by a mountain lion while hunting in the Georgetown, Ca., area.

The caller suffered "traumatic injuries" to his face during the attack, according to the sheriff's news release. Deputies and paramedics administered aid and took him to a hospital for further treatment.

The 21-year-old brother became separated from his younger sibling during the attack, and required police to search for him in the area and found him about a half hour after the initial 911 call.

"The mountain lion was between the deputies and the subject on the ground," the sheriff's office said in the release on Facebook, describing the scene when officers located the older brother. "Deputies discharged their firearms scaring the mountain lion off so they could render aid. Unfortunately, the male subject was deceased."

The last fatal mountain lion attack in California happened in 2004, when a 35-year-old man was killed at Whiting Ranch Regional Park in Orange County, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's list of "verified mountain lion-human attacks."

"According to historical reports, four fatal incidents involving six victims occurred around the turn of the previous century," the agency said.

Not including the Saturday incident near Georgetown, the list shows there have been 21 mountain lion attacks -- defined as "direct physical contact between a human and a mountain lion resulting in physical injury or death" -- since 1986.

Parker said the animal was tracked down by wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the El Dorado County trapper.

"The mountain lion was dispatched, and the body of the mountain lion was collected for further examination," he said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will investigate the circumstances surrounding this attack, and try to arrive at a cause, Parker said.

California wildlife officials say mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. The last recorded fatal mountain lion attack in El Dorado County was reported in April 1994, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A 40-year-old woman died after an attack in the Auburn State Recreation Area.

There have been fewer than 50 mountain lion attacks on humans reported in California since 1890, and only six of those have been fatal, according to California wildlife officials. In most cases, the person was alone when the attack occurred, according to the department.