Search for mountain lion that attacked 6-year-old girl at South Bay park

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A search is underway in a three to four square mile area of a South Bay park to find the mountain lion that attacked a six-year-old girl mid-morning Sunday in the company of four adults and three other children.

It happened along Wildcat Canyon Trail about a mile from Deer Hollow Farm inside Rancho San Antonio County Park near Cupertino in Santa Clara County.

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The search area is in steep terrain about two miles from the main parking lots.

Four dogs from the Department of Agriculture are being used.

The girl was scratched by the mountain lion.

She was also left with small indentations where it tried to bite her in the calf. The girl's name has not been released.

A ranger said she was in good spirits after the attack.

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"We had analysis from the clothing and bandages of the young girl," said Captain Todd Tognazzini with California Department of Fish & Wildlife. "We confirmed with our forensics people that a mountain lion was responsible fo transferring DNA to her clothing and her wounds."

Dept. of Fish & Wildlife officers will then try to match the collected DNA to any mountain lion they've tracked. This is the first such attack on a human in the history of Rancho San Antonio County Park. Normally, mountain lions are active at night. The attack happened mid-morning.

One of four trail cameras in the park captured an image of a mountain lion just before 5:00 a.m. Monday, but it's not known if that is the animal they're trying to find.

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"We know we have a mother that tends to stick around here quite often, but we don't know the sex of this cat. It could be a big male moving through," said Supt. Brad Pennington with the Midpeninsula Open Space District. "It could be just another lion passing through the area."

In Sept. 2014, another six-year-old, a boy, was attacked by a mountain lion along a trail just over the ridge from Ranch San Antonio near Picchetti Winery. It took four days to track that mountain lion.

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A decision will be made later on what to do with the mountain lion involved in the attack if captured.

The park is closed to the public until the animal is captured and conditions are safe.

Here is the full statement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Services:

"California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, with assistance from Midpen rangers, are investigating the incident and attempting to locate and positively identify the animal. Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve is closed until further notice, and will reopen when the investigation is finished and Midpen determines it is safe to do so.

Midpen works closely with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to minimize conflicts between wildlife and people. When an encounter happens and the animal can be located and positively identified, CDFW determines what action to take.

Mountain lions live throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains region and generally are not a threat to people. Most avoid areas of human activity and are easily scared off by loud noises. Seeing a mountain lion is rare and an encounter like this is very unusual.

Visitors to parks and open space should remain vigilant when outdoors in mountain lion territory. If you see a mountain lion in Midpen preserves, remain calm, make yourself large and loud and slowly back away. Never turn your back or run. Report sighting to Midpen rangers at 650-691-2165."
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