A mountain lion attacked a man sleeping inside a sleeping bag on Sunday morning close to the Yuba River in Nevada County.
The 63-year-old man, whom officials have not named, had driven from the Bay Area to outside Nevada City, where he was planning a multi-day backpacking trip. He hiked a short distance up a trail before laying down in a sleeping bag around 10 p.m. to rest before his next day’s adventure.
Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the department and a game warden said, “Around 1 a.m. Sunday, the man awoke to a sensation of something pressing on his head. He felt very much what felt like a big heavy paw on his head. When he reacted to that, instantly the animal just ferociously attacked him. He didn’t necessarily fight back, but he did say he did his best to protect his head.”
The mountain lion attack lasted for two minutes before the animal finally backed off to a distance of about 15 yards where the lion stood and stared at the man for about 30 seconds, then disappeared into the dark.
The 63-year old man drove himself to the hospital in Grass Valley, where he was treated and released for cuts and bites on his head and left arm.
The mountain lion had bit into his head, scratched him, was biting through the man’s clothes and through the sleeping bag.
This is only the 15th confirmed mountain lion attack to a human in California since 1890. Six of which have been fatal.
“The frequency of lion attacks on humans is extremely rare. In this case, it’s hard to say what happened. He posed zero threat to this lion because he was asleep,” Foy said.
Mountain lions don’t normally attack people, but if and when they do decide to attack humans, they will do it from behind because they mistake the humas as prey, like a deer. This cougar attack was either sick with rabies or a curious young lion investigating a strange new object in its territory.
Tim Dunbar, executive director of the Sacramento-based Mountain Lion Foundation added, “To have a story where a lion is waking somebody up because it’s putting its paw on the person’s head, that just sounds strange. It’s not an action of an animal, especially a lion, attacking a food source.”
The Department of Fish and Game are searching the area to find the mountain lion. If they find it, it would be killed, Foy said, following state policy to kill cougars that attack people.
Mountain Lion Attack