California mountain lion attack claims lives of two brothers, both outdoor enthusiasts

Two brothers who were avid outdoorsmen were identified on Monday as the victims attacked by a mountain lion in Northern California this weekend, in what looks to be the first fatal cougar attack in the Golden State in two decades.

Taylen Robert Claude Brooks, 21, was killed in the attack, while his 18-year-old brother, Wyatt Jay Charles Brooks, was seriously injured but expected to live, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.

The Brooks brothers, both from Mount Aukum in southern El Dorado County, grew up together in Northern California’s gorgeous Gold Country region, hunting and fishing on a regular basis, according to a statement released by the Sheriff’s Office.

“These two young men being as close as any two brothers could be, lived a full energetic life enjoying the outdoors,” the statement went on to say. “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.”

Deputies responded to a report Saturday from Wyatt Brooks, who stated he and his brother were assaulted by a mountain lion in a rural area of Georgetown, in northern El Dorado County, while scouring a forested area for deer antlers.

Wyatt Brooks received “traumatic injuries” to his face and was separated from his brother during the incident, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release. Emergency personnel first discovered and treated Wyatt Brooks before discovering the mountain lion crouched close to his brother’s body. Officials shot at the animal, scaring it away.

Officials from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and an El Dorado County trapper eventually shot and killed the mountain lion, which remained “proximity” to where the attack occurred, according to Sgt. Kyle Parker of the sheriff’s office. The animal’s body was taken in for examination to “figure out why the attack occurred,” according to Parker.

Taylen Brooks helped his father paint houses and cut firewood.

“He truly enjoyed fishing and was an extremely talented guitar player,” the family stated in the release. “He was a very kind and gentle soul and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”

The family announced Monday that plans for a memorial had not yet been decided.

Wyatt Brooks, who was preparing to be a fireman, endured many surgeries for his injuries and is likely to recover completely, according to officials.

Jarrod Kline, a close friend of the Brooks family who is serving as their spokesperson, told The Times that Wyatt Brooks was healing at home.

“It will be a long road, but he is home with his family,” Kline told reporters. “It’s unfathomable, it’s unbelievable.”

The Brooks family has established an online fundraiser in memory of Taylen Brooks and to benefit Wyatt Brooks.

“I know we live in a rural region, that [mountain lions] are present… “It’s just unfortunate that it hit home,” Kline remarked. He claimed that in recent years, the number of mountain lion sightings in the area had “exploded.”

Although fatal animal assaults are extremely rare, wildlife authorities predict that contact between humans and mountain lions will grow as the cats’ habitat declines and people continue to build farther into natural areas.

The state’s latest documented deadly mountain lion attack occurred in 2004 when a puma in Orange County killed 35-year-old cyclist Mark Reynolds. Another attack occurred in El Dorado County in 1994 when a jogger named Barbara Schoener was killed on a trail in the Sierra foothills.

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