Searchers combing rugged terrain for a 3-year-old boy found evidence suggesting a mountain lion dragged him off, authorities say.

Shoe prints thought to be the toddler's were found a half-mile from where Travis Zweig of La Quinta disappeared, sheriff's Sgt. Craig Kilday said Tuesday. He said the prints stopped at a rocky overhang where mountain lion prints were found."Where the shoes stopped there was a slide area and what they believed to be drag marks," the sergeant said.

He emphasized that the possibility an animal dragged the boy off is only a theory.

The last fatality from a mountain lion attack in California was a boy killed in 1890, according to the Orange County Cooperative Mountain Lion Study. Only a dozen such fatal attacks have taken place in North America since 1890.

The boy wandered away from an isolated cabin in the mountain community of Pinyon Pines on Sunday while his father's back was turned. The boy's father, Kevin Zweig, was helping a friend chop wood.

About 80 sheriff's officers and search teams have combed the ravines and hills in the area 115 miles southeast of Los Angeles.