“It’s important to have law enforcement officers who are specially trained for this type of investigation, both for officer and public safety. Their knowledge of wildlife behavior, the habitats of wildlife and what poses a risk to human and animal safety is invaluable in these situations.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
TRINITY COUNTY – On May 16, 2022, officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) responded to a report of a mountain lion attack in Trinity County. The incident happened around 3:00 p.m. along State Route 299 near Big Bar.
A woman reports that she and her dog were walking down a path near State Route 299 and a picnic area. She noticed movement beside her as reports a mountain lion swiped her across her left shoulder, causing injury. As she screamed, her dog, a Belgian Malinois who was exploring the path ahead of her, immediately returned toward her and engaged the mountain lion. The mountain lion bit the dog’s head and would not let go. The woman attempted to throw rocks and pull the animals apart, but to no avail.
The woman reports she went back up to the road and flagged down a passing vehicle. A passerby stopped, retrieved a can of pepper spray and sprayed the lion in the face with little to no effect. The mountain lion was attempting to move off the trail and drag the dog to a different location. The woman and the passerby eventually retrieved a piece of PVC pipe and began hitting the mountain lion with it until it finally released the dog.
The woman drove her dog straight to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. The dog’s condition is guarded, and it is not known if she will survive. The woman then drove herself to receive medical treatment in Redding. Her injuries consist of bite wounds, scratches, bruises and abrasions, but are not life-threatening.
CDFW officers interviewed the victim, the passerby, the veterinarian and the emergency medical physician, and have worked with each of them to collect appropriate samples for analysis. The samples were delivered to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento and are being processed. Although DNA analysis from samples taken during the investigation are the most reliable way to conclusively prove a mountain lion attack occurred, initial evidence from the investigation is strong enough that wildlife officers are investigating it as a legitimate attack.
CDFW asks those in the area to be aware that CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division is working with allied agency partners to trap the offending mountain lion and will further evaluate the situation if it is caught.