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Photos: There's a Mountain Lion in My Backyard—Almost

A cougar's proximity to Rancho Santa Margarita homes on Tuesday keeps the residents on their toes.

A mountain lion was spotted a mere 15 feet from a Rancho Santa Margarita back yard on Arboleda on July 16, 2013. Photo/Chase Miller
A mountain lion was spotted a mere 15 feet from a Rancho Santa Margarita back yard on Arboleda on July 16, 2013. Photo/Chase Miller
By Martin Henderson

A mountain lion kept a Rancho Santa Margarita neighborhood on its toes Tuesday when it decided to rest in the afternoon shade just a few feet from a man's back yard. 

The predatory feline was photographed by Chase Miller near his residence on Arboleda in Melinda Heights, which backs up to the north end of O'Neill Regional Park. Miller first spotted the animal when he looked out his back window.

"He hung around for about 45 minutes or an hour while resting in the shade," said Miller, who used the opportunity to get some some nice photos of the animal. 

Miller's first-hand account can be found in his surf lifestyle Smell of Summer blog, in which he is more likely to happen on a Great White Shark at the top of the food chain. He wrote that he saw the cougar "heading my way" about 4:30 p.m., and got to within 15 feet of his back yard.

"Though no one was in immediate danger, the animal was so close to homes that everyone was on their feet," Miller blogged.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife was contacted, and Miller showed it his photos. A call to the Orange County Sheriff's Department was made at 5:23 p.m., to assist.
maryfwong July 17, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Here is a great link posted on Dove Canyon's Facebook Page: https://community.dwellinglive.com/common/file.aspx?f=b2lbCUqQT69fRaJzotWH2ZsdBB%2bc2wpWLC5vDfLcb%2bg%3d
Martin Henderson (Editor) July 17, 2013 at 12:44 PM
I'd have gone out there and hit it over the head with a newspaper. "Bad cat! Shoo." I agree, Mike, it would have been pretty awesome to see, but you make a good point about not wanting it to get too comfortable around the neighborhood—though I suspect mountain lions are pretty comfortable wherever they want to go.
Mike Proctor July 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Darn it, I deleted my post by mistake. Oh well LOL
Paige Austin July 17, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Wow. Great Pictures!
Peggy July 17, 2013 at 06:55 PM
What a beautiful creature - especially like the close-up of his face coming through the bushes. So glad no one tried to hurt it. Wonder what brought him to the neighborhood . . .
Tom Thumb July 17, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Luckily the mountain lion, jaguars and others are not endangered. Whereas the cheetah, lion, tiger and others are. Just went to the Tulsa zoo and got to see a jaguar up close. They are powerfully built and impressive. After seeing the animals at the zoo, drove down to Seymour Texas for the yearly rodeo/5k run. I've been going for the 5k run over the years, but this time went to the rodeo dance with the cousin. Got in the pickup with rifles and other guns spread about. Lots of cowboys and gals having a good time. The cousin says he's got all these guns because he has to shoot feral pigs and coyotes every day on the cattle land he works. The area has been is a stage 5 drought for 4 years. Luckily they got a good rain a few days ago. Everything is trying to survive.
Martin Henderson (Editor) July 17, 2013 at 08:24 PM
Mike, your comment was that you would have scared the big cat away so that it doesn't become comfortable around residences, which seems like a good idea. My response: Hit it over the head with a newspaper and yell, "Bad kitty! Shoo!" Those are some good photos, aren't they?
Jeremy Young July 19, 2013 at 02:49 PM
I spoke with my professor who is a geologist. He told me he ran into some officials who were tagging mountain lions in trabuco Capone back up to the peak. He was told that they tagged 27! I also spoke with someone from caspers park off of Ortega. They said they tagged mountain lions too... The lions go from Escondido to trabuco canyon in search of food. They also said that the cats that we see up here are dangerous due to the fact that the reason they are this far north is due to food... They then said that the cats tend to come up here during the summer so anyone hiking beware! If you see a big kitty, never turn you back and run. Stand tall and throw small rocks near the area of the cat but not at the cat... This makes the cat think you have a defense. If your on a bike, stay on the bike and stand tall. Makes you appear larger! Hopefully this information helps!
Jeremy Young July 19, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Trabuco canyon*
Mike Proctor July 20, 2013 at 04:34 PM
A garden hose or a wrist rocket would have done the trick. People seem to think its nice and cute to have the wildlife come so close to their homes, when in fact, the only reason they are coming so close, is that they have no fear of humans. They have been protected to long. This are use to be a prime Mt. Lion hunting area. Prop 117, back in 1990, was a "feel good" law, and was passed with ZERO scientific studies to back it. They are not endangered, and there numbers are strong in Ca, and the population numbers nation wide are healthy. There is plenty of food and water in the area to support the current population in the remaining open mountains and hills. For the protection of the Mt. Lion, and the people who live here, the best thing to do is bring back the natural fear of humans. Lets be real, people are not leaving, and only encroaching more into the hills, so to sit there, and let a Mt. Lion rest behind your home is a big mistake.

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