California: Mountain lion attacks 6-year-old girl; gets punched in the ribs

National News

California (CNN)(02/18/20)— 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 victim, her parents, and several other adults and young 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.

According to a news release issued by a Mid-peninsula Regional Open Space District, a park ranger quickly provided first aid to the child.

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.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 17 people have been attacked in the state since 1986.

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 had been 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.

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