LOS ALTOS (CBS SF) — At the end of the day, Park Rangers with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District called off their search on Monday for a mountain lion that attacked a group of hikers at Rancho San Antonio County Park Sunday, clawing at the leg of a six-year-old girl.
Park rangers brought in specially trained bloodhounds to track the animal. They believe a trail camera captured an image of the animal prowling in the pre-dawn darkness Monday, and that the mountain is likely still somewhere in the area.
“They will trail the lion and it will always go up a tree because it doesn’t want to battle four dogs on the ground,” says Capt. Todd Tognazzini with California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The dogs will bay or bark as they’re looking up at the lion in a tree. And we’ll be able to move our personnel in with a dart gun.”
Park Rangers say the open space preserve will remain closed until they capture the animal or are confident that it has moved out of the area.
The child sustained minor injuries and was treated on-scene before being taken to a hospital as a precaution. She was later released to parental care. The animal was scared away by adults who were present.
“The mountain lion came out of the bushes and reached for the girl, actually got her back leg with its claws and one of the friends of the family was able to push the lion away into the bushes and it took off running,” said Brad Pennington, Superintendent with Midpen.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department also responded to the scene.
Countless cars and hikers were turned away from the park Monday. Hikers who spoke to KPIX 5 were understanding but anxious.
“It is worrisome. But I do understand that it is the wild and you run the risk of encountering any kind of wildlife, says Edwin Garcia.
“If they found the animal, I would feel better about going inside the confines,” says Lynne Pritchard who confined her walk to the sidewalk Monday.
Park rangers say they have collected DNA from the victim’s clothing and injuries and will use it to compare against any animal they capture.