The apparent mauling of a homeless man by a mountain lion in suburban Perris left him with bites and cuts so severe he won't be able to talk with wildlife authorities about his ordeal for several days, a spokesman said this weekend.
A doctor at Menifee Valley Medical Center told California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials the 50-year-old victim is "pretty bad off" and wouldn't be capable of an interview, said department spokesman Lt. Patrick Foy.
"He was mauled severely, yes," Foy said.
The big cat's attack was at about 8 a.m. Saturday in a homeless camp near Highway 74 at Navaho Road, close to a shopping center west of Interstate 215. That site is brushy vacant lot surrounded by subdivisions and businesses.
The location of the mauling prompted Foy to urge people to take precautions for their kids and pets.
"We are asking nearby residents to be aware there is a lion in the area and to be careful with their pets and children," Foy said in a statement from the fish and wildlife department.
The man suffered puncture wounds and bite marks to the base of the skull, and other injuries Foy described as severe lacerations to his neck, arms and back.
There were no witnesses to the attack, said Dan Sforza, assistant chief with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Dispatchers received a call at 8:10 a.m. from a resident describing a bloody homeless man, outside the house and asking for help. The victim had managed to walk to the home despite his injuries, Foy said.
Arriving paramedics took the injured man to the Menifee hospital. The man's name was not released, but he underwent surgery Saturday night and his condition was not released, officials said.
Fish and wildlife authorities say they strongly believe a mountain lion attacked him.
The animal was not found when wildlife officials and biologists went to the area where the attack happened. Baited traps have been set up to snare the big cat, and DNA samples were collected from the man's wounds to match with the animal if it is captured, officials said.
If found, the mountain lion will be destroyed "in the interest of public safety," the state Department of Fish and Wildlife reported.
There are no scientific studies about mountain lion populations in the area, Foy said, but Perris is not an area where mountain lion attacks were expected.
If the man's injuries are verified to be the result of a mountain lion attack, it will be the 15th such incident on humans in California since 1986, wildlife officials said.
A mountain lion attack turned fatal at Whiting Ranch Regional Park in Orange County in January 2004, and a 63-year-old man survived a mountain lion attack in July 2012 in Nevada County, wildlife officials reported.
— City News Service.