SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The key to finding a mountain lion suspected of mauling a homeless man in Southern California may be in Sacramento.
The big cat is still on the loose, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife is doing DNA tests at its lab in Sacramento.
They say mountain lion attacks are very rare, with last week’s attack being just the 15th since 1986. But they’re doing everything they can to track this lion down before it strikes again.
Saliva samples collected from the scene and from the victim’s clothing could confirm what the department says is a virtual certainty—a mountain lion viciously bit and clawed a homeless man last Friday east of Los Angeles.
The victim, in his 50s, was curled up in a blanket for hours before somehow getting up and stumbling to a nearby home before collapsing.
“The amount of blood he lose, it’s amazing he’s still alive,” said Lt. Patrick Foy. “He got really torn up.”
He says finding the big cat has proven difficult. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department used heat-sensing technology from the air, but couldn’t stop it.
Investigators hope the samples tested at the Sacramento lab reveal at least the gender, if not the DNA signature of a particular mountain lion.
Once they’re sure it’s a match, Foy says the lion will have to be put down for the public’s safety.
That’s controversial to some, who have already complained to the department.
“But I would rather handle those angry calls from those members of the public about killing the lion than I would ever want to talk to a mother whose child was injured, or at worst, killed by a mountain lion I didn’t take responsibility for,” Foy said.