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Mountain Lion Sedated, Taken to Vet

The 100-pound animal found in Whiting Ranch will not be killed, authorities say.

A 100-pound mountain lion captured in Whiting Ranch Regional Park early Tuesday morning will not be killed, authorities said.

The 2-year-old animal will be relocated to some kind of "facility," though the exact location was not immediately known, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game.

The puma was sedated at about midnight and taken to in Lake Forest for examination, said Orange County Parks spokeswoman Marisa O’Neil. Hughan said it will be undergoing some minor surgery at the hospital.

Rangers closed the Orange County wilderness park Monday to trap what they suspected was a lactating mountain lion seen several times over the past week so she can be relocated. However, they captured instead a 2-year-old male puma, which will be very difficult to relocate because male mountain lions are so territorial, Hughan said. Authorities believe they caught the animal that has been spotted repeatedly in the area.

“They were lucky to capture it. This is very rare because they are incredibly difficult to catch,” said Hughan. “They used a Have-A-Heart trap baited with beef. The lion smelled the beef and walked right into the trap. Right now the lion is safe and secure. Everybody is taking a deep breath before they make a decision.”

It was necessary to catch the lion because it has been spotted in such a populated area, he added. It is near the spot where a biker was killed and a woman was attacked in January 2004, said Hughan.

Officials spent Tuesday morning considering the fate of the animal.

“Relocating lions doesn’t work because they are so territorial,” said Hughan. “If you drop a mountain lion into another mountain lion’s territory, one of them is going to die because they are going to kill each other over territory.”

Though protected from hunting, mountain lions are not endangered. There are roughly 4,000 to 6,000 statewide, added Hughan.

On July 8, a . Subsequent sightings prompted rangers to temporarily close the path. , but rangers  after additional sightings.

A was posted online over the weekend prompted state Department of Fish and Game officials to search for the big cat, which did not leave the area even after it was fired upon with beanbag-type rounds in an attempt to scare it off, O'Neil told the Orange County Register.

"During the investigation, they spotted the mountain lion very close to the trail and unwilling to move," said O'Neil. "Park rangers closed the park as a precaution while DFG officers continued the investigation."

The park was reopened to the public today, but the Serrano Cow Trail is likely to remained closed for the next couple days as a precaution.

The fish and game department is warning residents to stay calm if they encounter a mountain lion in the wild.

“The lions are more afraid of you than you are of them,” said Hughan. “If you see one, look large, wave your hands above your head, pick up your kids and dogs, and (the lion) will run away.”

Jim McCarthy July 17, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Thanks Mike, your video got it killed! I think it's your responsibilty to plead w the authorities to house it at Oakley. It's not like you don't have the funds to build a 6k sq. ft. titanium cage complete with a mountain bike park. It's make a great guard dog for the tank.
P Smith July 17, 2012 at 06:00 PM
OH NO!! dont kill it... wasnt that biker killed on cactus trail? The cats are in the area...we know this, closing one trail and killing one mountain lion is just a false sense of security. If you are at Whiting.. you are in their yard. And they are on all trails. sheesh. stay alert. use judgement. duh.
Urban Sprawler July 17, 2012 at 06:14 PM
These guys are idiots. Remove this male and another one will move in to the territory. Everyone wants to venture out into nature but no one wants to actually experience it. Lets kill all the Great White sharks too so that these folks can have a safe swim after their bike ride.
Jim McCarthy July 17, 2012 at 06:27 PM
yeah
Sheryl K July 17, 2012 at 06:30 PM
We have intruded into their area. Killing animals so we can sprawl is not the answer. We all know that going into their territory is a risk we take to enjoy nature. Nature is no longer nature when we eliminate things that are dangerous. If you want to be take the risk, you are up against what is out there. That is why it is called a nature trail.
ms.sc. July 17, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Please do not kill the animal! Even though you state they are territorial and if replaced in another remote mountain area, another cat may kill it. I say then so be it. That is nature's way of survival-of-the-fittest. It is not natural, only selfish if we euthanize this beautiful animal. Relocate the animal!
Maria McNeill July 17, 2012 at 06:54 PM
I'm so torn on this subject. We live near Cook's corner for 20 years. We have always known we live in a wilderness area. When we first moved in, packs of coyotes would stroll down our street at night. We don't see many or hear them howling at night like we used to. Even with this hot summer weather and a probable water shortage for wildlife it seems the coyotes and other animals have moved a little further inland; possibly more towards the Foothill Ranch/Alton Parkway area. We have always taken extra precautions with our pets because of where we live. We don't leave them outdoors or unattended. We try to have something with us at night and early morning to protect us in case we happen to step outside and encounter a wild animal. We've seen evidence of big cats and wild animals in our yards and in the neighborhood but with common sense it's possible to live peacefully with wildlife present. While I would hate to see another hiker or biker mauled or killed, isn't going back on the trails this time of year kind of like surfers and swimmers going into the ocean in sea-lion colored wetsuits where great whites have been sighted?
Jamie Andrews July 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
PLEASE give us the information to contact the people in charge of making this decision! We may have found a rescue that will take the Mountain Lion! He doesn't have to die, his only crime was being in his natural habitat!
Jamie Andrews July 17, 2012 at 06:57 PM
What's going to happen to him?
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM
@Jamie and everyone else: The lion won't be killed! It's going to be sent to a "facility," though it's not clear which or where yet. I'll update as soon as I get more info.
ms.sc. July 17, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Thanks Sarah...I'm not sure if it was from previous posts or a previous Patch article that the officials were debating whether to euthinise the animal. Your updates will be appreciated.
Lori Lytal July 17, 2012 at 07:38 PM
When will humans learn that WE are invading the wild life's territory?! I hike that trail all of the time, and I respect the fact that I am in the animal's living quarters. This animal should NOT be injured, or put to death or relocated! Once they find out that there is nothing wrong with the cat's brain, they need to release it back to where it came from. They will NOT attack a human unless the human is bent over looiking like an animal in the case of the man that was killed while stooped over fixing the chain on his bike (cats attack from behind) or if they are defending their babies or their prey (as in the case when the woman was attacked.) This is just sad. Humans must take responsibility for their safety when hiking in the wild, even though the "wild" is in your backyard.
Lori Lytal July 17, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Please do keep us updated Sarah. It is very much appreciated.
Lori Lytal July 17, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Excellent comment Sheryl!
Sandra Stipp July 17, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Happy to hear that the mountain lion was caught instead of killed.
S.A.P. July 17, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Do ALL of you have poor reading comprehension? It clearly says "it will not be killed". Do you think they are doing surgery on it so that they can kill it?
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM
@Shipwrek: They were debating what to do with the cat all morning and euthanization was one of the options. That's why people were commenting about the possibility of it being killed.
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 10:44 PM
UPDATE: The cat is alive and well at an animal hospital in Lake Forest. It will be transported tonight to a facility that cares for big cats, then eventually placed permanently in captivity (not sure where yet). Want to meet him? Photos here: http://patch.com/A-whSn
Lady Golfnut July 17, 2012 at 10:51 PM
I'm very relieved they are not going to kill this beautiful animal! It broke my heart that the one in LA was killed a few months back. I hike Whiting Ranch, I golf Tijeras Creek, I live very close to this wilderness and I respect it for what it is and I know the risks involved. There are warning signs all over the place and as stated above its our responsibility to be aware when WE INTRUDE on them!
Sarah de Crescenzo (Editor) July 18, 2012 at 05:40 AM
@mountainbike chick and @mountainbike dude: We don't allow profanity (even abbreviated) in this forum. Feel free to repost your thoughts without it. Thanks.
ms.sc. July 18, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Thanks Sarah for the photo's and video :) And good job keeping your commentors civil.
Jeremy Jacobus July 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I was on the trail the morning that the video was shot! I am Hiking 1000 Trails in 1000 Days! Check out the story at www.CaliHike.blogspot.com
LaserM July 18, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I too hike those trails and hate to see anything happen to these cats. However, in reading up on them a bit shows that these cats, especially the males, are very territorial. The park can only support a set number of these cats. This male is young and may have just been booted out of the area he grew up in by his parents. The large number of recent sightings seem to support that he was trying to find his own territory. Where is he to go? His choices seemed to be to fight to the death with a larger and more experienced male or take up residence in the south end of Borrego Canyon and Serano Cow Trail? Something had to give. I was upset about this at first as well but after looking into all this a bit deeper, the actions taken were probably the most humane possible.

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