Patrick Foy, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
A 65-pound male mountain lion was killed with a rifle shot near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail area this morning in an effort to protect public safety relating to a lion attack several days earlier.
Two families were hiking on a marked trail in Cupertino on Sunday, Sept. 7 when a mountain lion attacked one of the children. According to the adults in the group, the 6-year-old boy was walking only 10 feet in front of the others, when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked him. The boy was transported to the hospital with serious but non-life threatening puncture wounds and released the next day.
Wildlife experts went to the scene of the attack and picked up the cat’s scent. After three days of investigating within a one-mile radius from the attack site, the experts and specialized tracking dogs found a cat and treed it approximately130 yards from the attack site. The cat was about 70 feet up in the tree and tranquilizing it was not a reasonable option and the fall would have killed it anyway.
The cat displayed unusually aggressive behavior while treed, crouching and fixating on a wildlife officer. The fact that it was so close to the attack site, coupled with the territorial behavior, likely indicates that this was a local lion probably involved in the incident as opposed to one that was passing through the area. CDFW’s wildlife investigation lab will be conducting a full forensics investigation, comparing evidence gathered at the attack to confirm the identity of the cat.
No one at the department wanted to destroy this animal but protecting public safety is a first and foremost priority. Relocation of mountain lions is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In this instance, the lion was not eligible because it had attacked a human. CDFW’s mountain lion policy can be found here: Human/Wildlife Interactions in California: Mountain Lion Depredation, Public Safety, and Animal Welfare. The policy is based on structured decision-making protocol that includes non-lethal and relocation options, but prioritizes public safety in the event of attacks or threats on humans.
Authorities will conduct a complete necropsy, making the rabies test a priority as well as the gathering of additional forensic information to assess the health of the cat.
An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions live in California. For information about how to stay safe when living or recreating in mountain lion territory, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html.