One dead in rare US mountain lion attack

A mountain lion, also known as a cougar, is seen in the western region of the United States (HO)
A mountain lion, also known as a cougar, is seen in the western region of the United States (HO)

A rare attack by a mountain lion on two brothers in a remote area of California left one dead and the other severely injured over the weekend, with authorities reporting that the cat was subsequently euthanized.

The siblings had been out collecting deer antlers when they were approached by the cougar, according to a statement posted Monday on the Facebook page of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, outside Sacramento.

Rather than retreat when the brothers followed protocol for encounters with mountain lions -- raising their hands in the air, yelling at it and even throwing a backpack -- the animal charged and attacked.

Taylen Brooks, 21, was killed, while his 18-year-old sibling Wyatt suffered "traumatic injuries to his face," the sheriff's office said.

The last fatal attack in California by a mountain lion was in 2004 in Orange County, near Los Angeles.

In the Saturday attack, the cougar initially targeted Wyatt Brooks, biting him on the face, then clawing on his midsection as Brooks attempted to fight free.

It subsequently targeted Taylen Brooks, biting him on the throat and refusing to release the young man, according to the statement.

The younger brother retreated to where they had parked their vehicle to seek cell service to call for help, then returned to find his brother gone.

After a search deputies later discovered "a crouched mountain lion next to a subject on the ground," scaring it away with gunshot.

Wardens and trappers were able to later locate the animal and euthanize it, the sheriff's office said.

Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare. Only 22 people have been attacked by cougars in California since 1986, with only three deaths in that time.

Mountain lions -- also known as pumas, panthers and catamounts -- are large wild cats native to the Americas and can be found from Canada's northwest Yukon territory all the way down to the southern Andes.

Fully grown males average just over 130 pounds (60 kilograms) and measure six to eight feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) head-to-tail.

The apex predators are one of two large cat species in the Western Hemisphere, along with jaguars found further south in Mexico and Central America.