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72-Year-Old Man Survives in Wilderness by Eating Squirrels

gene penaflor
Gene Penaflor got lost while hunting deer in heavy fog in California's Mendocino National Forest. (Image credit: Screenshot from CNN)

After getting lost in the Mendocino National Forest, spending 19 days surviving on small game, Gene Penaflor, 72, has been rescued by a hunting party who heard his cries.

On Sept. 24, Penaflor became separated from his hunting buddy in heavy fog. He stepped into a crevice and hurt his knee. "After that, all went dead — I passed out, I don't know [for] how long," he told CNN. When Penaflor woke up, he was lost. In an effort to save energy, Penaflor said rather than trying to take down big game like deer, he survived on algae, a snake, three squirrels, and water from a creek. He made a fire of dry leaves and kept it going day and night until rescue crews could find him. 

After getting a clean bill of health from the hospital, Penaflor is now at home with his son.

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Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.