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Mountain lion kills a man, injures another in Northern California

A mountain lion is sitting on dry grass with a focused gaze, near a rock and a branch.
A mountain lion watches visitors at the Oakland Zoo in 2018. In a rare fatal encounter, a mountain lion killed a man and injured another Saturday in a remote area of Northern California. | Source: San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

A man was killed and his brother injured Saturday in a rare attack by a mountain lion in the wilderness northeast of Sacramento, authorities said.

The brothers, age 18 and 21, were out hunting for deer antlers Saturday afternoon in a remote part of Georgetown, a small, historic town in California's Gold Country, when the mountain lion attacked them, according to a statement from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office.

Around 1:13 p.m., the younger brother called 911 to report that the pair had been attacked and that he had been separated from his brother.

Deputies arrived about 15 minutes later to find the younger brother with “traumatic injuries” to his face. A few minutes later, they spotted a mountain lion crouched next to the older brother on the ground, according to the statement.

It said they fired their guns and scared off the animal so they could help the man, but he was already dead.

Authorities said wardens and trappers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife along with a trapper for El Dorado County found the mountain lion, and the state agency said Saturday evening that the animal had been euthanized near the scene of the attack.

State officials said the mountain lion's body had been taken in for examination to help determine why the attack happened.

Mountain lions have been known to attack people, but the last fatal encounter was 20 years ago, in 2004 in Orange County, according to a verified list kept by the Fish and Wildlife Department.

The agency reports that since 1890, there have been fewer than 50 verified mountain lion attacks on humans in California; of those, only six have been fatal. "A person is 1,000 times more likely to be struck be lightning than attacked by a mountain lion," according to the department's website.

Officials said Sunday that the younger brother had undergone surgery for his injuries and was expected to make a full recovery.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.
Rachel Scheier can be reached at