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Cougar a Victim of ‘Mistaken Identity’

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Associated Press

State game officials say they do not intend to track down a mountain lion that pounced on a hunter, wrestled with the man and then let him go.

Fish and Game Department officials say they believe the cougar mistook the man for a turkey.

“I think it was (a case of) mistaken identity,” said Bill Clark, a Fish and Game Department wildlife investigator in Sacramento. “Once the cat realized it wasn’t a turkey, it took off. . . . I think the cat was probably as scared as he was.”

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Arthur Eichele, 27, of Sacramento, was hunting wild turkeys on a slope overlooking Englebright Reservoir about 6:45 a.m. last weekend when the attack occurred.

Eichele was fully camouflaged when the mountain lion pounced on him.

“He was hunkered down sitting by a stump and being real still and blowing what you call a turkey call. He had a turkey decoy sitting out in front of him,” Clark said. “The mountain lion thought he had a turkey dinner there.”

Eichele told officers that the cat ran away after he yelled and struck at it with his elbows.

Other hunters in the party did not see the attack, but saw the mountain lion as it fled.

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