Hikers turned away from Bay Area park after mountain lion attacked 6-year-old

Bay Area

CUPERTINO, Calif. (KRON) – A popular park on the Peninsula remains closed Monday night after a mountain lion attacked a child early Sunday.

It happened at Rancho San Antonio Park in Cupertino.

Park rangers turned away hundreds of hikers Monday after a 6-year-old girl was attacked and bitten by a mountain lion about 9:30 Sunday morning near the popular Deer Hollow Farm Trail.  

A team with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife spent the day trying to track and ultimately catch the animal, says Captain Todd Tognazzini.

“They brought in four trained dogs to try and strike on the scent of the cat in the area where this occurred. We’re hoping we’re successful in treating the cat and getting mobilization equipment into it and have chemicals to dart the animal,” Tognazzini said.

A trail camera captured a fuzzy image of a mountain lion early Monday but it’s not clear whether it was the cat who attacked the child and was then scared off by her father, says Ranger Brad Pennington.

“We don’t know the sex of this cat, it could be a big male moving through, it could just be another lion passing through the area,” Pennington said.

The park was closed briefly last summer when some resident mountain lions were spotted near a trail.  

Disappointed they could not hike, most visitors were okay with the extra caution.

In a worst-case scenario, the guilty mountain lion, should it be captured, will have to be euthanized.  

Before that can happen, it must be determined that it was indeed responsible for the attack.

“We have the plan right now is to collect DNA evidence from the cat if we do capture a cat to make absolute positive sure that the cat that we capture is the cat responsible so we have to do a DNA match so we’ll keep that cat in confinement until such time that we’re able to confirm whether or not, and keep it alive, and keep it healthy and what not because we don’t want to make a mistake,” Tognazzini said.

If you see a mountain lion, here are some safety tips:

  • Stay calm, stay put, or back away slowly facing the lion
  • Stand up tall and make yourself bigger
  • Do not run, this may trigger the cat’s instinct to chase
  • If it attacks, fight back aggressively and protect your neck

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