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Woman "Saved Husband's Life" In Lion Attack

File photo of an adult mountain lion.
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Jan 26, 2007
A 65-year-old woman saved her husband's life after beating off a mountain lion which mauled him as they hiked in a California park, wildlife officials said Friday. Nell Hamm attempted to gouge the lion's eyes with a pen before picking up a large branch and clubbing the big cat into submission after it sunk its jaws into her husband Jim's head during the attack on Wednesday. Jim Hamm, 70, was recovering in hospital on Friday following the terrifying ordeal, which took place at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 563 kilometers (350 miles) north of San Francisco.

California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Martarano said Hamm had saved her husband's life.

"There's no doubt she saved his life," Martarano told AFP. "She did everything right. When a lion attacks and it gets to the point where it has you in its jaws, the only thing to do is fight back.

"She tried gouging its eyes with a pen and when that didn't work she picked up a big branch and whacked him with it. She's a feisty little lady."

Following the attack, wildlife authorities closed the park and hunted the lion responsible. Two lions were later shot near the trail where the Hamms had been attacked.

Martarano said tests were taking place to determine if either of the lions had been responsible for the incident.

Although California is home to between 4,000-6,000 mountain lions, attacks on humans are rare. Martarano said there have been only 16 recorded incidents since 1890, with six fatalities, the most recent in 2004.

"We have not done a complete survey so we don't have firm numbers, but nothing we have seen suggests the lion population is increasing or decreasing," he said.

"The reason sightings appear to have increased is because humans are moving into their habitat more and more. But there's never been an attack in a residential area," he added.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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