A Sunday afternoon hike turned into every parent's nightmare when a 6-year-old boy was attacked by a mountain lion.
Around 1:00 p.m. yesterday, September 7, a mountain lion along a trail about two miles from the Picchetti Winery near Cupertino grabbed the child "in an aggressive manner" and dragged him through brush, the Chronicle reports. The unidentified boy, who is home from the hospital today, sustained bite marks to his head, neck, and shoulders before family members could chase the cougar away, according to ABC7.
Now California Department of Fish and Wildlife game wardens, park rangers, and a USDA wildlife official are on the hunt for the mountain lion, which will be euthanized if found. Officials stayed in the park all of last night and are continuing to search today, tracking the animal using blood hounds. If they catch a mountain lion, its DNA will be tested against what was found on the boy's clothes to make sure it's the correct one. Officials tell ABC7 that the cougar is likely to attack again.
"To be clear, you don't take the decision to do this lightly," California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy said. "This is nothing we would ever want to do or try to do, unless it is a very severe circumstance of an animal that has exhibited extremely aggressive behavior. That little boy would have been killed had his dad not intervened."
Hiking trails in the Picchetti Open Space Preserve and part of Stevens Creek County Park have been closed to the public, but the winery remains open.