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Brother of the man killed by a mountain lion is expected to recover

A cougar prowls on a hill with a sprawling city's lights below at night.
A mountain lion captured by a motion sensor camera in the Verdugos Mountains near Los Angeles in 2016. The last recorded killing of a person by a cougar was 20 years ago. | Source: Associated Press

An 18-year-old Northern California man who survived a mountain lion attack that killed his older brother is expected to recover, authorities said.

The 21-year-old’s death on Saturday in a remote area northeast of Sacramento was the first fatal encounter with a cougar in the state in two decades.

The sheriff’s office on Monday released the identities of the two men: 18-year-old Wyatt Brooks and 21-year-old Taylen Robert Claude Brooks. They both lived in Mount Aukum, a small town in El Dorado County.

The younger man called the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, reporting that he and his brother had been attacked while hunting for shed antlers near Georgetown, the office said in a statement.

Deputies arrived around 1:30 p.m. to find the younger man with facial injuries. Minutes later, they saw a crouched mountain lion next to the older brother on the ground, according to the statement.

The deputies fired their guns and scared off the big cat. The older brother died at the scene.

In a statement issued Monday, his family said the brothers had grown up in southern El Dorado County “hunting and fishing together, almost daily.” Taylen Brooks worked with his father, painting houses and cutting firewood, and was a talented guitar player, according to the family.

“These two young men being as close as any two brothers could be, lived a full energetic life enjoying the outdoors,” they said in the statement.

“We are all devastated by the tragic loss of Taylen yet thankful Wyatt is still with us and are well-aware the outcome could have been even worse.”

The surviving brother had undergone multiple surgeries for his injuries, the sheriff’s office said Sunday. California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife said its wardens found the cougar and euthanized it.

“The mountain lion has been sent to the CDFW forensics laboratory to obtain DNA information and general health of the lion,” the department said on X.

Georgetown is a small, historic town about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of the state capital.

Mountain lions have attacked humans previously, but the last fatal encounter was in 2004 in Orange County, according to a verified list kept by the Fish and Wildlife Department.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.