Mountain lion believed to have attacked 6-year-old is caught and killed

A mountain lion that authorities believe attacked a 6-year-old girl in Northern California on Sunday was captured and euthanized, the state department of fish and wildlife said Thursday.

The 6-year-old survived the attack at Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve in Santa Clara County, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Officials had been searching for the mountain lion and on Wednesday afternoon they found a female in a tree and sedated it to get a DNA sample, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement.

The sample was found to be a match and the animal was "humanely euthanized by CDFW staff for public safety purposes," the statement said.

The six-year-old was said to be recovering from what were described as minor injuries.

The girl was walking on a stretch of trail about two miles from the main parking area with other children, her parents and other adults Sunday morning when the attack occurred, park Ranger Brad Pennington said Monday.

One of the adults pushed the mountain lion off the girl and into the bushes, Pennington said at the time.

The mountain lion that is believed to have been involved in the attack and which was put to death was described as a female between two and four years of age and around 60 pounds.

The incident was the second mountain lion attack in California this year, and both were not fatal, the department of fish and wildlife said. The previous attack was in Orange County, California, in January.

The department estimates that there are around 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions in California, which has a population of around 40 million people, and there have been only 17 verified attacks since 1986.

"The probability of being attacked by a mountain lion remains very low,” the department said. The last fatal mountain lion attack was in 2004.

"CDFW is actively engaged in mountain lion conservation across the state. However, public safety is a top priority,” department spokeswoman Jordan Traverso said in the statement. "We made the decision to euthanize the lion because it was confirmed to have attacked a human."

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