Mountain lion scratches hiker as it lunges at dog on California trail, officials say

A young mountain lion went after a small leashed dog as it walked with its owner along a California trail — and scratched the hiker’s hand when they held the dog away from the cougar’s claws, officials said.

The attack took place in Solstice Canyon, a park in Malibu’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, officials said in an Oct. 24 post on Facebook.

While the hiker was able to protect their dog from the mountain lion’s clutches, they “received a scratch and puncture wound on their hand,” officials said in the post.

The scratch was “minor,” Seth Riley, wildlife branch chief of the U.S. National Park Service, told LAist.

The dog was not injured, and National Park Service rangers gave the hiker first aid at the scene, officials said.

“How scary for the dog and the owner,” someone said in comments on the post. “I’m glad they’re okay.”

To be cautious, and because a second young mountain lion was spotted nearby during the attack, officials closed Solstice Canyon until 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, while wildlife biologists examined the situation — and while the mountain lions hopefully left the area, officials said.

Several people said they were grateful officials planned to let the big cats leave the area on their own.

“The lions were exactly where they belonged. In protected, open space,” someone said.

Others wondered how young the mountain lions were and if they had been separated from their mom before they could learn to hunt.

“We do encroach into their territory, then wonder why there’s an issue,” someone said.

What to do if you see a mountain lion

Mountain lions are typically “calm, quiet and elusive,” according to the National Park Service. While attacks involving mountain lions are rare, they are possible.

“Even so, the potential for being killed or injured by a mountain lion is quite low compared to many other natural hazards,” the National Park Service said on its website. “There is a far greater risk, for example, of being killed in an automobile accident with a deer than of being attacked by a mountain lion.”

Officials said there are some things you do take to prevent a mountain lion encounter from becoming an attack.

  • Stay calm and back away slowly.

  • Face the lion and stand up straight.

  • Don’t approach a mountain lion, especially if it’s with kittens.

  • Don’t run. It could stimulate a mountain lion’s chase instincts.

  • Pick up small children so they don’t panic or run away.

  • Don’t bend over or crouch down.

  • Throw things at the mountain lion if it continues to move toward you.

  • If the mountain lion attacks, fight back using anything around you.

  • Report all sightings, encounters or attacks to local park rangers or law enforcement.

And those who bring their pets along in national parks are required to keep them on a leash 6 feet or shorter, officials said.

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