Santa Clara County

Mountain Lion Attack Prompts Closure at Rancho San Antonio Preserve

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Thousands of people hoping to hike at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino during the President's Day holiday were turned away Monday after a mountain lion attacked a 6-year-old girl over the weekend.

The mountain lion pounced on the little girl, injuring her calf. Fortunately she is going to be OK. The attack happened Sunday morning about a mile from the entrance.

Rangers suspect a mountain lion caught on camera by trail surveillance just before 5 a.m. Monday is the same one that pounced on the girl.

"The mountain lion came out of bushes and grabbed her calf," California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Todd Tognazzini said.

The girl was walking a trail with six adults and three other kids. Fortunately, a family friend acted quickly, punching the mountain lion in the ribs until it ran off.

Rangers treated the girl at the preserve and said her family drover her to a nearby hospital, where she received tetanus and rabies shots as a precaution. She did not need stitches.

On Monday, Rancho San Antonio remain closed while wardens using specially trained dogs used by the Puma Project to search for the mountain lion.

Sunday's incident is the first mountain lion attack on a person ever reported at the preserve.

"If you see a mountain lion, make yourself big. Make a lot of noise, back away slowly, don't turn and run, fight back if attacked," said Brad Pennington, a ranger with the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District.

If wardens find a mountain lion, they plan to shoot it with a tranquilizer gun and confirm if it's the one that attacked the girl by matching DNA from the big cat with DNA from the victim's clothing.

Officials said if the DNA is a match, Dept. of Fish and Wildlife will likely euthanize the mountain lion as they have done in the past.

Ranch San Antonio will be closed again Tuesday if wardens are unable to find the mountain lion.

Back in August, Rancho San Antonio was was closed for a short time because some mountain lions were exhibiting unusual behavior.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has only confirmed 17 mountain lion attacks on humans in the last 100 years.

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