Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mountain Lion at Whiting


The OC Register reported that an aggressive mountain lion was shot and killed in Whiting Park.

TRABUCO CANYON – Officials shot and killed an aggressive mountain lion that had been stalking a family walking a trail near Foothill Ranch Elementary School on Sunday in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, state wildlife officials said Monday.
A Mission Viejo resident, Madison Smith, and her two children were walking on Borrego Trail on Sunday evening when the mountain lion came within about 6 feet of her 5-year-old son – close enough to pounce.
The young mountain lion was close enough for the family to hear it making hissing sounds, California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said.
“A mountain lion came up behind them and was acting very aggressively,” Hughan said. “The lion made several moves toward the family.”
Another hiker on the trail shouted at the lion and threw rocks at it, Hughan said. The family got away from the mountain lion and called 911.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies and a California Department of Fish and Wildlife game warden found the mountain lion in a grove of bushes a few feet away from the Borrego Trail about 5 p.m. Sunday. They tried to scare the animal away; instead, it acted aggressively toward the officers, Hughan said.
“The lion showed no fear whatsoever, which is a very dangerous situation,” Hughan said. The game warden shot and killed the lion.
The body of the 1-year-old, 60-pound animal was taken for examination to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife lab in San Bernardino. Officials will examine whether the mountain lion had a disease that may have prompted its aggression, said UC Davis Wildlife Health Center Associate Veterinarian Winston Vickers, the lead veterinarian on the Southern California Puma Project, which tracks the behaviors and habitats of mountain lions.
“Normally, we would not have expected the animal to have yet left its mother, so it does make one wonder if there was an issue there that could have led the animal to behave abnormally,” Vickers said. “But we do not know that.”
A mountain lion was seen in the same area of the park in February, Hughan said.
Mountain lion attacks are rare but do occur yearly in North America, Vickers said. The most recent mountain lion-related human death statewide was in January 2004 in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.
“It’s unfortunate when there are these kinds of incidents,” Hughan said. “The animals are always going to be the ones to lose. We don’t relocate problem animals. If the lion did this once, he’ll do it again.”
Contact the writer: 949-454-7373 or ejames@ocregister.com


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