Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

'We thought it was weird too,' official says of incident

The off-duty park ranger who escaped injury during a mountain lion attack Thursday evening on Crescent Beach was back to work Monday.

His name has not been released by State and National Parks at his request.

The ranger was fishing south of the Crescent Beach picnic area around 7:30 p.m. when he saw his dog being chased by a mountain lion, according to the parks.

The lion then attacked the ranger, who hit the animal with his fishing pole and kicked it, the parks state.

Authorities from California Department of Fish and Wildlife located what it called a "sub-adult" animal near the attack location at around 9 p.m. and killed it.

The carcass was sent to a forensics lab in Sacramento for analysis. Test results are not yet available.

It is suspected that the lion was recently sent on its own, and because mountain lions have very big territories there is speculation that it was "pushed to the edge of the earth," said Candace Tinkler, chief interpretive ranger for Redwood National and State Parks.

She also speculated that the mountain lion may have been hungry and acting out of desperation, or it could have been attracted by elk that are known to frequent the adjacent inland area.

"We thought it was weird, too," said Tinkler. "Most of us wouldn't dream that we would be walking down the beach and encounter a mountain lion."

She considers the encounter more of an anomaly then something residents should be concerned about.

It is Fish and Wildlife policy to kill any mountain lion that attacks a human.

"Any time a lion has attacked a person we are going to kill it," said Patrick Foy, a spokesperson for Fish and Wildlife. "We can't leave a lion out there where it may attack another person."

He said he understood that there may be people who criticize the policy, but said he'd rather take that criticism then some from a mother who has just lost her child.

The last confirmed mountain lion attack on the North Coast was in January 2007 in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. It was nonfatal and involved a 70-year-old man.

This is the first confirmed mountain lion attack on a humanin Del Norte County listed byFish and Wildlife.

Sixty-eight mountain lions were killed by Fish and Wildlife from 2001 to 2008 that were deemed to pose a safety risk - three in Humboldt County.

Three mountain lions were killed under the authority of a depredation permit since 1972 - 2006, 2005 and 2000 - in Del Norte. The permits are issued when an animal is deemed a nuisance.

Fourteen depredation permits have been issued in the county since 1972. Mendocino County has had the most issued in that time frame, with 652 and 329 reported kills.

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