By Tia’Lavon Hill, Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local
On Sunday morning, what started out as probably a fun trip to a California park, turned into a very life threatening situation for one 6 year old girl. The child was attacked by a 160-pound mountain lion, as she and several others hiked on a trail at the Rancho San Antonio County Park in Santa Clara County, California. The entire group on the trail consisted of the victim, her parents, as well as four other adults, and three other young children. Once the mountain lion leapt from the bushes, and onto the victim, one of the adults punched the mountain lion in the ribs, according to MidPeninsula Regional Open Space District ranger, Brad Pennington. The rest of the group then followed the attack with loud noises and was successfully able to scare it away.
It was during this time, a park ranger quickly provided first aid to the child, according to a Midpeninsula Regional Open Space news release. The girl was reportedly walking along closely with three other children when the attack occurred, and one of the nearby adults was able to rescue her by punching the animal in the ribs, reported by ABC News’ San Francisco station KGO. The attack, which parking officials say happened just two miles from the main parking lot, left the 6-year-old girl with puncture wounds to her legs. However, thanks to the quick actions of the adults around her, the child is expected to fully recover. “Seeing a mountain lion is rare and an encounter like this is very unusual. Mountain lions live throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains region and generally are not a threat to people,” the news release added.
The future of the park is uncertain as it is currently closed, while the California Department of Fish and Wildlife searches for the animal. When it’s located and positively identified by DNA sampling, the wildlife department will determine what to do next. Not much is known about the mountain lion’s fate either, as Cpt. Todd Tognazzini with the Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that all he knew was that they “wouldn’t leave the cat” in the park. The department implemented a “three-strike” policy in 2017 that allowed property owners to kill mountain lions who had killed or injured livestock or pets. Just last month, the first California mountain lion had been killed under the state’s new depredation law. Meanwhile, the attack has left visitors and those who live in the area worried and on edge about further attacks.
In an interview with KGO, Cupertino resident, Evelyn Horng, said “There are mountain lions that wander around here once in a while. It’s usually in the dark and not during the day.” As for what to do if you ever cross paths with a mountain lion, park officials recommend remaining calm, making yourself large and loud and slowly backing away. Most importantly, remember to never turn your back or run. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said, a total of 17 people have been attacked in the state since 1986.