Mountain Lion Spotted in Whiting Ranch

A mountain lion jumps out in front of a cyclist riding through Whiting Ranch.

A large mountain lion reportedly jumped out in front of a cyclist riding in Whiting Ranch on Sunday, according to the Lake Forest police blotter.

The bicyclist, who was near Serrano Cow Trial and Dreaded Hill, stopped in his tracks and backed away until he was out of sight of the animal.

He called the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 7:59 p.m. to report the cat's presence, according to police.

Deputies responded to the area to look for the cat, as did park rangers. 

A sheriff's helicopter also joined in the search, hovering above Whiting Ranch, but searchers were unable to locate the cat.

"To date, there has been no further sighting of the animal," said Lt. Pat Higa, chief of Lake Forest Police Services.

Janet Whitcomb July 11, 2012 at 03:49 AM
This is a very scary situation. Some of you may remember a similar situation happened in 2004 when the body of local resident and mountain biker Mark Reynolds was found at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park after another bicyclist, Anne Hjelle of Santa Ana, was attacked by a mountain lion. She was saved only by the intervention of another bicyclist accompanying her and two hikers who heard her friend's screams. There's a lot more to this story than I can provide at this time, but suffice it to say that except for Anne's rescue and eventual recovery from severe lacerations, it was a tragedy all around.
Marion Anderson July 11, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Almost all mountain lion attacks on people have happened in areas where dogs are not allowed. Having hiked many CA trails over the last 18 years, this senior doesn't go without her dog. Yes lions can attack dogs too, but my dog knows what's out there long before I do. When he starts paying nervous attention to something, I head for safety. So far so good, these big cats are not to be trifled with.
Jim McCarthy July 11, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Just emailed to my family in response to them sending me this link. I live right off Santiago Cyn Road near Cook's Corner--cross streets Ridgleline/Santiago. : Yeah, I was out spraying black widows around the house when I watched one walk up to about 30 feet away from the laundry room. It wasn't afraid at all and kept waking straight into the flashlight. I thought initially from it's profile that it was a very large racoon. As it came closer and I saw the fur I thought definitely a decent sized bobcat. It kept coming straight into the light right on the other side of the grapefruit tree and stared at me, blinded in the flashlight. I still can't believe it, my heart was pounding when I saw it's long yellow legs. I yelled at Tina and that's when it backed off. I went out 15 min later around the side, into the creek with a flashlight and a Kabar (stupid) but I wasn't about to go into the tall bushes where I saw it. I'm guessing the whole half hour I was out there it was probably just sitting down in the same spot, keeping it's eyes down.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 03:43 PM
@Marion Anderson: Smart move. Dogs can hear movement long before we notice it.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 03:49 PM
@Jim McCarthy: Thanks for sharing your story! When you get a minute, would you email me the date and approximate time you spotted the mountain lion? sarah.decrescenzo@patch.com
Tennickly July 11, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Mountain lions live in the area. I know they are dangerous, but I don't see why this is news. It's like having a story saying I was spotted at home.
OC Outdoor Guy July 11, 2012 at 05:54 PM
You all should seek some education before commenting. Not to be mean but you are in their home and ineducated comments scare people for no reason. Mountain lions are always there. It is very common to see tracks in the park! It is a wilderness park and they are there to hunt the deer, Not People. There are occasional sightings in the park but it is extremely rare for anykind of interaction. Enjoy the comfort of knowing they are there and serving their purpose in the ecosystem. There could be devastating results if they were all removed.
Janet Whitcomb July 11, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Until recent urbanization, mountain lions were rarely seen. The continued growth of communities in former wilderness areas, however, has not only reduced cougar territory but hemmed them in as well. Cougars also were known for being leery of close contact with people as well as moving about only at night time. Such behaviors, however, have been changing as their territory continues to be reduced.
David Seal July 11, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Mountain lions prefer the taste of road bikers clad in lycra. Those are a delicacy, but sadly, they cannot find as many of them in Whiting Ranch.
UCI Guy July 12, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Micheal, what a disgusting display of ignorance. "The cat needs to go". Really? Removal of an indigenous species from its natural habitat...why. Because he was seen? Great reasoning genius. You're in THEIR home, not visa versa. We've cornered this and other species into a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of acres that they roamed for thousands of years. And now they cant even inhabit the miniscule reservation that we've carved out for them. Yes, tragedy has struck before, and such is the case and is going to happen when we invade and encroach on a wild animals turf.
mack tast July 12, 2012 at 05:09 AM
What were you wearing?
mack tast July 12, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Uneducated comments scare people too, especially ineducated people.
MFriedrich July 12, 2012 at 05:52 AM
With the explosion in rabbit population throughout Lake Forest residential areas and parks, there should be absolutely no issue finding food. Fish in a barrel for a powerful predator like a mountain lion. And their competitor coyotes who like to frolic about at dusk on days before garbage collection can't possibly eat them all. Rabbit stew, rabbit gumbo, deep fried rabbit, rabbit stifado, beer-braised rabbit, rabbit fricassee, haasenpfeffer.... I don't blame the mountain lions one bit. Now if someone would just do something about all these OC cougars, that'd be a big help.
Jim McCarthy July 12, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Sarah, This was approx. 8:30 on Monday night, it was a coincidence because I was emailed this link on Wed morning by family member who knows I mtn bike in Whiting all the time. I was writing her a response when I just decided to paste it in here. Also, in response to this my Dad commonly sees one on his daily early morning route around whiting. This cat is everywhere, maybe it'll pop up at the Foxfire- OCs local Cougar Bar-- sorry for the ineducated humor in my respawns.
John Muir July 14, 2012 at 12:23 AM
OC cougars! Classic comment. So true. Some of the apprehensive comments here truly show how delusionally entitled many OC people think they are. If you go surfing, you enter a food chain; no difference for hiking. It's exhilirating to know you don't "control" everything when being allowed the privilege to enter nature's domain. Accept it, respect it, thrive WITH it. If not, then stay in your air conditioned home in front of your TV with a bag of chips and watch PBS so the wild things can't jump out at you. That just means more serenity for me and the mtn. lions! We'll be just fine.
mack tast July 17, 2012 at 12:11 AM
mack tast July 17, 2012 at 12:12 AM
At 7 a.m. on July 15, 2012, this coyote was recorded driving off a mountain lion in Orange County, California. This video was taken on the Serrano Road trail of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park just south of the Dreaded Hill Road trail.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 12:18 AM
@mack: Wow! What an incredible video! It's listed as being recorded by a Robert Meyer—is that you, or did you just find the video on YouTube?
mack tast July 17, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Hi Sarah, No connection to Mr. Meyer. Just sharing his video. I work across the street from there and occasionally walk or ride that trail. The word of the video got around work pretty quick because of the proximity. You could try to contact him by commenting on his youtub post. Looks like he just suscribed, having this video to share...
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Thanks for the quick reply. I've reached out to him via YouTube. Would love to get his first-person account of what it was like to shoot this video...he got pretty close to that mountain lion!
Nancy July 17, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I live in Foothill Ranch on the Canyon side looking right at Serrano Road. Saw what I thought was the biggest Bobcat I had evern seen here (and I have seen many over the years). It was yesterday, the 15th. I told the neighbors that I thought it might have been a mountain lion because I only saw it from the back; it was walking with a large rabbit in it's mouth. I didn't see the Bobcat markings, just white in the buttocks area and it was all brown. When I read the article in the OC register today and saw the video, I knew I really did see my first Mountain Lion. It was about 6:30 Sunday evening. Tonight, a helicopter hovered over our area for 1 1/2 hours and we saw the Park Ranger truck up on the hill along the trail. I bet they are closing the trail for a few days.
Jonathon July 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Jonathon July 17, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I got my ineducation from the Tee Vees!
Jonathon July 17, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I agree with you Janet. The only solution is to both reduce communities and the human population. I know eugenics gets a bad rap, but let's think about the mountain lions.
Mario Herrera December 20, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Earlier this summer my wife and I were hiking as it got dark. We decided to head out of the park toward the West water tower instead of going down Dreaded Hill. about 300 yards from the water tower, we spotted 3 mountain lions approx. 100 yards down the canyon between Dreaded Hill and the water tower. we shined our light toward them and saw their eyes light up. We remained calm and fast walked to the exit. We did report it to a ranger later that week. I hike out there often and have not seen any cats. I thought they were out of the area, but it is clear they are there and know how to stay out of sight!


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