Rangers continued Wednesday to look for a mountain lion that attacked a young boy in Big Bend National Park and which is thought to have aggressively approached a family out hiking the same day.
“We’re still looking for the cat, but have not found it. Everything is reopened except for the Window Trail and a few backcountry campsites," said David Elkowitz, the park's chief of interpretation.
The unidentified 6-year-old was attacked Sunday evening as he and his family were walking outside the Chisos Lodge after dinner, according to witnesses.
A park visitor who posted an account of the incident on a Backpacker.com forum board said the family had "finished dinner about 10 minutes before my wife and I did and left with some left over food that the boys didn't eat. As we were leaving the lodge to return to our room, the family came up to us screaming that they had been attacked by a mountain lion. As we backed into the lodge, we could see clearly that the older boy had been attacked as he was bleeding with a clear puncture wounds to his face. EMS arrived and the boy will be OK although he will probably need some stitches."
The other incident occurred on the Windows Trail when a mountain lion approached another family, which was able to ward off the animal with a Camelback pack.
Chief Elkowitz said park officials are working on the assumption that the same mountain lion was involved in both incidents.
“My understanding is that they were both a juvenile cat," he said, adding that the trail and the lodge are in close proximity to one another.
The last time the park, which has about two dozen mountains lions within its borders, recorded a mountain lion attack was in May 2003, the chief said.
It involved "a very old female cat, couple of borken canines, starving to death," said Chief Elkowitz. "It pulled a man down, gave him a puncture wound, he fought it off. It was found and destroyed.”
If the mountain lion involved in the latest incidents is found, it will be put down.
“That’s the policy. If they attack and actually come in contact with people, that’s the policy throughout the system," said Chief Elkowitz.
In addition to having patrols keep an eye out for the mountain lion, traps also have been set out in an attempt to catch the lion alive, he said.