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Victims of California mountain lion attack were brothers, avid outdoorsmen

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office has identified the two brothers involved in the horrific mountain lion attack on Saturday March 23rd as 21 year old Taylen Robert Claude Brooks of Mt. Aukum, Ca and 18 year old Wyatt Brooks of Mt. Aukum, Ca. Taylen Brooks tragically lost his life during the mountain lion attack and Wyatt Brooks is recovering from the traumatic injuries he sustained in the attack. The attached document is the official statement provided to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office by the Brooks family along with a photograph Taylen and Wyatt.
The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office identified the two brothers involved in the mountain lion attack on Saturday as Taylen Robert Claude Brooks, 21, and Wyatt Jay Charles Brooks, 18, of Mount Aukum. (El Dorado County Sheriff's Office / Brooks family)

Two brothers who were enthusiastic outdoorsmen were identified Monday as the victims mauled by a mountain lion in Northern California this weekend in what appears to be the first fatal cougar attack in the Golden State in two decades.

Taylen Robert Claude Brooks, 21, died in the attack, and his brother, 18-year-old Wyatt Jay Charles Brooks, was severely wounded but is expected to survive, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

The brothers, both of Mount Aukum in southern El Dorado County, grew up together in Northern California's scenic Gold Country region, regularly hunting and fishing, according to a statement from the Brooks family shared by the Sheriff's Office.

"These two young men being as close as any two brothers could be, lived a full energetic life enjoying the outdoors," the statement said. "We are all devastated by the tragic loss of Taylen yet thankful Wyatt is still with us and are well aware the outcome could have been even worse."

Read more: Mountain lion kills man, injures another in Northern California

Deputies responded to a call Saturday from Wyatt Brooks that he and his brother had been attacked by a mountain lion in a remote area of Georgetown, in northern El Dorado County, where they had been combing a forested area for deer antlers, officials said.

Wyatt Brooks suffered “traumatic injuries” to his face and was separated from his brother during the attack, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office. Emergency responders first located and began treating Wyatt Brooks before finding the mountain lion crouched next to his brother's body. Officials shot toward the animal, scaring it off.

Officials with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and an El Dorado County trapper later shot and killed the mountain lion, which remained within “close proximity” of where the attack occurred, said Sgt. Kyle Parker, with the Sheriff’s Office. The body of the animal was taken in for examination to “figure out why the attack occurred,” Parker said.

Taylen Brooks worked with his father painting houses and cutting firewood.

Read more: California mountain lion population is thousands fewer than previously estimated

"He truly enjoyed fishing and was an extremely talented guitar player," the family said in the statement. "He was a very kind and gentle soul and will be deeply missed by all who knew him."

Plans for a memorial have not yet been finalized, the family said Monday.

Wyatt Brooks, who was training to become a firefighter, underwent multiple surgeries for his injuries and was expected to make a full recovery, officials said.

Jarrod Kline, a close friend of the Brooks family who is acting as a family spokesperson, told The Times that Wyatt Brooks was recovering at home.

“It will be a long road, but he is home with his family," Kline said. "It’s unfathomable, it’s unbelievable."

The Brooks family has set up an online fundraiser in memory of Taylen Brooks and to support Wyatt Brooks.

“I know we live in a rural area and [mountain lions] are around. ... It’s just so unfortunate that it hit home," Kline said. He said mountain lion sightings in the local community had "exploded" in recent years.

Fatal attacks by the animals remain very rare, but wildlife officials say encounters between humans and mountain lions are expected to increase as the cats' habitat shrinks and people continue to build deeper into wilderness areas.

The state's last known deadly attack by a mountain lion was in 2004, when a puma in Orange County killed 35-year-old cyclist Mark Reynolds. In 1994, another attack occurred in El Dorado County, when Barbara Schoener, a jogger, was killed on a trail in the Sierra foothills.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.