A six-year-old child was taken to the hospital in Cupertino, California after a mountain lion attacked the child on a hiking trail. The Santa Clara County Sheriff Department tweeted that the attack took place on a hiking trail off of Montebello Road.
6 yr old child attacked by Mtn Lion on hiking trail off Montebello Rd. @CaliforniaDFW en-route. Hiking trails in area are closed.
— SantaClaraCoSheriff (@SCCoSheriff) September 7, 2014
The child is expected to survive the injuries sustained in the mountain lion attack, but the sheriff’s office was asking that hikers avoid the area as animal control was searching for the animal.
The Sheriff’s Department has said that the case has been handed over to the California Fish & Wildlife department for handling, and they will be the lead agency handling the mountain lion attack from this point forward. USA Today reports that mountain lion attacks are rare, but mountain lions are known to be present in much of California’s wilderness and are sometimes seen in areas where homes and commercial developments adjoin wild lands. This seems to be the case with this particular hiking trail.
Sargeant Kurtis Stenderup, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told SFGate in regards to mountain lions in the area,
“We know they’re up there. We do get some calls about them, but most of the time, it’s ‘they crossed the road’ or ‘went by someone’s yard.’ If you live in the hills, you kind of expect that. But I think it’s rare to have a mountain lion attack a person, let alone a child. We’re going to look into it and figure out why that whole thing happened.”
Stenderup noted that the circumstances surrounding the attack were unclear and would be investigated thoroughly. Stenderup did note that should the mountain lion responsible for the attack be found, it would be up to the California Fish & Wildlife Department to decide what to do with the animal.
SFGate notes that this is not the first time a mountain lion was seen in public in the area. In nearby Mountain View in May, a mountain lion that wandered out of the rural hills and into the city was safely tranquilized and released into open space.
If the mountain lion is found, what do you think the department should do with the animal? Should it be euthanized or should those using the trails just be more leery of the wildlife?