Search Continues For Mountain Lion That Attacked Boy At Big Bend National Park

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.

Comments

We're going there next month and couldnt get a reservation at the Lodge. Now I'm thinking it'll be a good thing to stay in Terlingua. Yikes!

Carol,
I hope you enjoy your trip. The Basin area is beautiful. Watching the sun set through the "Window" is one of my absolute favorite things to do...and while these attacks are very serious (and it is clear from the story that the Park staff are taking them very seriously)....they are incredibly infrequent. Have a great trip! I'm jealous!

I feel sorry for the child and family inolved in the attack, but I think people -- especially tourists not familiar with this area -- should remember that Big Bend National Park is huge, it's a NATIONAL PARK and not a fenced-in petting zoo. I read one account (in a newspaper) that the mother of the bitten boy essentially blamed the BBNP rangers for "letting" the attack happen. Get real! The rangers can't watch every inch and every acre of the park 24/7, and they can't -- or shouldn't -- fence in the Chisos Basin, its lodge and campgrounds. If you're going to camp in the park (whether a remote, back-country site or Rio Grande Village, etc.) you should expect to see wild critters including javalina, bobcats, raptors, rattlesnakes, spiders, scorpions, and possibly black bears and mountain lions. The mother of the bitten child appeared to think the park is a zoo and the animals should be contained. NO! It's a wild and scenic place, and it should remain so.

I agree she can't blame the rangers! If she wanted to go to the zoo then she should've ! I feel pretty lucky every time I see a mountain lion! The 1 that attacked should be put down though!i hope for a speedy recovery and now he has a hell of a story to tell his friends!

Perhaps this is yet another FAILURE of NPS Interpretation Programs which sometimes provide
the Disneyland Perspective rather than wild Nature. This place is a small refuge for fragmented
wildlife populations and they need to be protected from all humans including rangers with a trigger-finger.
Each of these visitors arrived on Highways far more dangerous than the semi-wilds of Big Bend; they
are required to have drivers-vehicle insurance. Signs need to read: ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK !
NPS LAW ENFORCEMENT NOW FOLLOWING 9/11 Is out of touch with the realities of wildlands since
some of the NPS uniformed rangers have served in densely crowded urban-sub-urban centers and
often their knowledge of wildlife biology is in need of a serious refresher assuming they are even
interested or motivated in learning. We say, the NPS needs to become more successful protecting visitors
from other humans, especially career felons in parks.