A 65-pound male mountain lion thought to be responsible for an attack on a 6-year-old boy in Cupertino earlier this week was shot and killed Wednesday morning near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail, California Department Fish and Wildlife officials said.
Two families were hiking on a marked trail Sunday when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked the boy, who had hiked only 10 feet ahead of the group. The victim was transported to the hospital with puncture wounds that were serious but not life threatening. He was released from the hospital Monday.
Officials said wildlife experts and tracking dogs were able to pick up the mountain lion’s scent at the scene of the attack and track it. It was located after a three-day search about 130 yards from the attack site.
The mountain lion was found about 70 feet up a tree, so officers shot and killed it instead of tranquilizing it. Officials said the fall from the tree would have likely killed the animal.
Officials said the cat displayed unusually aggressive behavior while in the tree, crouching and fixating on a wildlife officer.
Coupled with its location near the attack site, they believe the behavior suggests the animal was local and connected to the attack. The CDFW’s wildlife investigation lab will be conducting a full investigation to confirm the mountain lion killed was the one involved in the attack.
DNA tests are being conducted using saliva samples taken from the boy’s clothing. A necropsy will also be conducted, including rabies tests, to assess the health of the cat and gather forensic information.
In some cases, mountain lions can be relocated, but officials said this lion could not be relocated because it attacked a human. There are an estimated 4,000-6,000 mountain lions living in California.