Media Contact: Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
A 6-year-old boy hiking with a large group of people was attacked by a mountain lion in a rural area west of Cupertino on Sunday afternoon. The child is expected to survive, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is actively searching for the animal.
Two families were hiking the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail area of the Mid-Peninsular Regional Open Space District when the attack occurred. According to the adults in the group, the 6-year-old was walking only 10 feet in front of the others, when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked him. With a firm biting grip on the boy’s head and neck, the cat began dragging the child into the brush.
The two adult men ran toward the lion, shouting aggressively. The cat let the boy go and ran off. Family members carried the boy back down the trail to their vehicles, where they called for help. The boy was transported to Valley Medical Center in San Jose with serious but non-life threatening puncture wounds and scratches.
District Park Rangers have closed the section of the park where the attack occurred until further notice. CDFW and USDA Wildlife Services are actively searching for the offending mountain lion. The mountain lion will be dispatched in the interest of public safety. Authorities will conduct a rabies test and look for forensic evidence.
Searchers found tracks indicating the lion followed the group back to their vehicles after the attack. As of Monday morning, the search for the cat was continuing.
Clothing the boy wore during the attack was taken to CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento where scientists will attempt to isolate DNA to ultimately identify the exact mountain lion responsible.
Mountain lions are present throughout California, but attacks on humans are extremely rare. A list of verified attacks can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/lion/attacks.html.
For more information about how to stay safe when living or recreating in mountain lion territory, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html.