Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office

Mountain Lion Attacks Child on Hiking Trail Near Cupertino Winery

A 6-year-old boy is in the hospital after being attacked by a mountain lion Sunday afternoon on a hiking trail near a winery in Cupertino, authorities said.

The child suffered non-life-threatening injuries, sheriff's deputies said. Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said the boy was in serious condition but was upgraded to fair condition Sunday evening.

The attack was reported around 1 p.m. on Montebello Road, a hiking trail near Pichetti Winery. Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office tweeted that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and deputies are searching for the animal.

A game warden, Travis Jarrett, told NBC Bay Area the boy's parents had to fight off the mountain lion. "The cat did make contact with the boy, did end up taking him into a brushy area, his parents did fight the animal off," he said. "He suffered enough injuries to the point that he was needing immediate medical attention. He had to be immediately hospitalized."

The warden said a federal trapper is en route to ensure the animal doesn't pose a threat to other humans. Officials said the boy was hiking with his family when the mountain lion attacked from behind.

Shawn Ardaiz, who was visiting from San Francisco, said he saw the boy being brought up the trail with what looked like "lacerations" on his neck. "The man came down the trail carrying his son, it looked like he had lacerations on the back of his neck ... He was bleeding pretty heavily," he said. "Originally, I thought he had fallen off some rocks, but afterwards we heard a mountain lion attacked."

Ardaiz called the attack "a little shocking." "You don't hear about this very often - it's a very weird thing, especially in the middle of the day like that," he said.

Authorities have closed hiking trails in the area and established a perimeter. They are asking the public to avoid the area. Santa Clara County Chief Park Ranger Matt Anderson said mountain lion attacks are very rare. "Generally speaking they will not attack - they will run from you," he said. "I am not sure what the provocation was in this case." State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said the mountain lion attack was an isolated incident.

Four federal tracking dogs were brought in to find the mountain lion.

"The animal will be euthanized and tested for general things including rabies, which is found in mountain lions on occasion,"  California Department of Fish and Wildlife Donald Kelly said.

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