Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Teen says lion attacked him

Teen says lion attacked him

 

Associated Press

 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A Lake County teenager says he was attacked by a mountain lion near Ramona.

 

Kurt Clark, 16, said he was playing with his dog Sunday night when he saw the big cat going into the woods. Clark said he grabbed his deer rifle and fired a warning shot but thought the cat had run off.

 

Clark said that's when he was attacked from behind. "When I turned around, that's when it knocked me down," he said.

 

His shirt was torn, and he was rattled but was not hurt.

 

The cat ran away when Clark's, yellow lab, Bo, came to the rescue.

 

Game, Fish and Parks Department officials said they believe the lion was a young male and probably is miles away by now.

 

The department did not notify neighbors because "we're fairly confident (the mountain lion) has moved on. They travel huge distances," said Ron Schauer of the GF&P.

 

Roger Hartman, Lake County sheriff, said it certainly could have been a mountain lion.

 

"Not saying it can't happen. Because a year ago they had one down in Yankton," he said. "Whether it was a cougar or not, I don't know."

 

A young mountain lion was shot in Yankton in June 2004. The cats are more common in western South Dakota.

 

Mountain lions generally are quiet and elusive, said George Vandel, assistant director of the GF&P's Division of Wildlife.

 

"According to statistics, since 1890, fewer than two dozen people have been killed by a mountain lion in the United States and Canada," he said.

 

There has been only one other reported lion attack in state history - 37 years ago in Custer State Park. Charlie McGuigan, an assistant attorney general, was a toddler when a lion grabbed him by the head and scarred his face.

 

McGuigan's father, Dave McGuigan, grabbed the lion and it let go of his son. The cat, a full-grown male, was kept at the park in a small zoo. It had been raised in captivity.

 

A longtime park employee said the male lion, a female lion, some wolves and other animals had been set loose by an intruder just a few days before the attack in August 1969.

 

The male lion was caught shortly after the attack and taken back to its cage. The female lion was shot by a Hermosa teenager several months later.

 

People who see a mountain lion should stay calm, back away slowly and try to make themselves appear larger, Vandel said. He advises people to throw sticks and stones, talk calmly and firmly and do not run.

 

"If a lion attacks, fight back," he said.

 

Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

 

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