NEVADA COUNTY, CA - A 63-year-old man was mauled by a mountain lion while camping northwest of Nevada City on Sunday.
According to California Department of Fish and Game spokesperson Patrick Foy, the man was hiking through Nevada County and made camp for the night on a tributary to the Yuba River. Then, while sleeping in his sleeping bag at around 1 a.m., the man was attacked by the lion.
"The lion bit into his head, it scratched him, it was biting him through his clothes, through his sleeping bag," Foy said.
The man told the DFG the attack lasted from one to two minutes before the lion walked about 15 feet away, turned and looked at him, and then ran off into the night.
Following the attack, the man drove himself to a Grass Valley hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries and later released.
DFG wardens responded to the hospital and confirmed the man suffered severe scratches and puncture wounds, Foy said.
Wardens also surveyed the attack scene and collected some of the man's clothing and his sleeping bag, which were analyzed at the DFG's forensic lab in Sacramento.
While at the scene of the mauling, wardens found lion tracks and used specially trained dogs to try to track the lion, but were unsuccessful. The remains of a house cat sustaining injuries consistent with a mountain lion attack were also found in the area, Foy said.
According to Foy, the attack was one of only 15 in California since 1890.
"Clearly, it's a very very rare occurrence. You are more likely to be attacked by a domestic dog or be struck by lightening than you are to be attacked by a mountain lion," said Foy.
DFG is now looking for the mountain lion. It is setting out traps in hopes of capturing the animal.
In the mean time, DFG offers this reminder.
"What you should do if confronted by a mountain lion: stand tall, shout aggressively toward the animal, throw rocks, throw sticks and certainly fight back if attacked," Foy said.