Animal Attacks Boy, 5, in New Mexico Mountains

A large animal attacked a 5-year-old boy hiking with his family, seriously injuring him with puncture wounds to the head, neck and back, authorities said.

Jose Salazar Jr. was hiking near Sandia Peak east of Albuquerque and had run ahead of his parents on Saturday evening when they heard a scream, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White said.

The boy's parents, Jose and Charlotte Salazar, saw the animal emerge from the brush and start dragging their son, White said. The father tried to jump on the animal's back, and it let go of the boy and fled.

The state Game and Fish Department said in a news release Monday that the child and his father identified the animal as a mountain lion from pictures shown to them.

Game and fish spokesman Ross Morgan, however, said dogs trained to track mountain lions picked up no scent in the area Saturday night or Sunday. The dogs were brought in again Monday.

"We're not going to rule out a small bear, cougar and bobcat at this point," Morgan said.

The U.S. Forest Service closed the Balsam Glade trail and campground while the investigation continues. The area is known to have mountain lions, bobcats, bears, coyotes and feral dogs.

The boy was hospitalized in serious condition Saturday, White said. On Monday the Game and Fish Department said the child was in satisfactory condition. A hospital spokeswoman said Monday the family declined to make the boy's condition public.

Attacks by bears and mountain lions on humans are rare. In New Mexico, a mountain lion attacked and killed an 8-year-old boy in 1974 in Espanola. A bear killed a 93-year-old Mora County woman in her home in August 2001.