PHOENIX – A rabid mountain lion was shot to death after attacking a 10-year-old boy as he and his family celebrated his birthday in a national forest near Phoenix, officials said.
Paul John Schalow of El Mirage, Ariz., suffered minor scratches on his back but wasn't seriously injured during Saturday's attack in a sparsely populated area in the Tonto National Forest, said Randy Babb, a biologist with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.
Paul said he and his cousin were playing in the sand when the mountain lion came up.
"It just placed it's paw on me, and it bites my head," Paul told KSAZ- TV Monday. "It scratches my back.
"I just stayed calm. I like animals but I know this one would probably try to kill me."
Paul will have to undergo a series of shots after being exposed to rabies, Babb said. Game officials are also recommending the shots for other people who touched the lion.
Babb said the attack occurred while the boy and his family were taking a break from riding all-terrain vehicles. He said while the animal tried to bite Paul's head, it didn't actually do it, only slightly clawing the boy's back.
A member of the group shot the lion twice, killing it, Babb said. He didn't know what kind of weapon was used.
Babb said it's not common to find rabies in large animals like mountain lions.
The Arizona Department of Health Services said Monday that it has confirmed rabies in 14 animals this year.