A 6-year-old girl is recovering from minor injuries after an animal suspected to be a mountain lion attacked her at a California park. Wildlife officials are now searching for the animal.
The attack happened Sunday morning when a group that included the girl, her parents and several other adults and children were hiking on a trail at the Rancho San Antonio County Park in Santa Clara County.
One of the adults punched the animal, which was believed to be about 160 pounds, in the ribs, CNN affiliate KGO reported. The rest of the group made loud noises and scared it away.
A park ranger quickly provided first aid to the child, a Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District news release said.
The attack happened close to the parking lot
The attack happened about two miles from the main parking lot, park officials said.
“Seeing a mountain lion is rare, and an encounter like this is very unusual,” the news release said.
“Mountain lions live throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains region and generally are not a threat to people,” it said.
Since 1986, 17 people have been attacked in the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
The park is closed while the California Department of Fish and Wildlife searches for the animal. When it’s located and identified, the wildlife department will determine what to do next.
Park officials said anyone who sees a mountain lion should remain calm, make themselves large and loud and slowly back away. And most importantly, they should not turn their back or run.
Just last month, the first California mountain lion was killed under the state’s new depredation law.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife implemented a “three-strike” policy in 2017 that allowed property owners to kill mountain lions that had killed or injured livestock or pets.