On Sunday afternoon, a mountain lion pounced on a 6-year-old boy hiking with his parents in the hills of Cupertino, California, biting the boy's neck and dragging him into the brush. The parents followed and fought the wild cat off, carrying the bleeding boy down the path and driving him to the hospital. He is in fair condition. The mountain lion will likely fare worse: Hounds are being brought in to track the cat down, and if they find one that matches DNA on the boy's clothes, it will be killed.
Mountain lion attacks are rare in California, says Lt. Patrick Foy of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, but sometimes they are deadly. "A 6-year-old child in no way can defend himself against a mountain lion," Foy said. "He was very lucky he was with his parents." There have been 13 other verified mountain lion attacks in California since 1986, according to the Fish and Wildlife Department; three were fatal.
If you happen to see a mountain lion while hiking, "face the animal, make noise, and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children," the Department of Fish and Wildlife advises. "If attacked, fight back." Here's a report on the incident, from KTVU Channel 2 News. --Peter Weber