ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. - A mountain lion has been euthanized after attacking a 3-year-old boy in a Southern California wilderness park on Monday, authorities say.
A family of six was out for a walk at the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Orange County when the animal approached, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
The young boy was leading the family when a mountain lion grabbed the boy by the neck and began dragging him away, OCFA Capt. Tony Bommarito said. The boy's quick-thinking dad threw his backpack at the animal, distracting it.
The mountain lion dropped the boy, grabbed the bag and climbed up a tree. The child was transported to a nearby hospital and is now in stable condition.
The park was evacuated while officials from the Department of Fish and Wildlife worked on getting the mountain lion out of the tree, Bommarito said. Law enforcement officials received approval from the Department of Fish and Wildlife to euthanize the animal.
Mountain lion attacks are rare. Since 1986, 17 people -- including the 3-year-old -- have been attacked by mountain lions in the state, three of whom died, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
At least two of those attacks took place in Whiting Ranch, the records show.