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Officials: Relocating Mountain Lion Was Not an Option

A state wildlife expert reacts to criticism that a warden shot and killed a young mountain lion on Sunday at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. A necropsy is being done.

Twitter photo of a mountain lion warning sign.
Twitter photo of a mountain lion warning sign.

Relocating the mountain lion that bared its teeth at a 5-year-old boy in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park on Sunday was not an option, because the roughly 1-year-old, 60-pound male had already shown itself to be a public threat, a state wildlife official said today.

"If we were to move that animal, what we're taking is an animal that has shown to be a public safety threat, and we're moving it somewhere else where the same thing may occur again," said Dan Sforza, the assistant chief of enforcement with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Wildlife experts said the mountain lion, apparently separated for its mother, was likely still learning how to hunt and showed no fear of humans. When it started acting aggressively toward the boy, Jackson, someone threw a rock at it, but the cat did not retreat, according to Madison Smith, who was hiking with her 5-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.

"As soon as Jackson moves back to me, the lion moved into a crouching position, bares its teeth and is ready to pounce on him," she said.

When wildlife officials responded to the report, the mountain lion was found in the same spot on the Borrego Trail where it had been snarling at Smith and her children.

Department of Fish and Wildlife officials made a decision to shoot the cat when they were unable to scare it off. That section of the Borrego Trail is not far from Foothill Ranch Elementary School.

A necropsy is being done on the mountain lion.

In 2004, 35-year-old mountain biker Mark Jeffery Reynolds was fatally mauled by a mountain lion in the same park.

--City News Service


Stan Jacobs April 03, 2014 at 02:17 PM
It may not have been a wild creature. It may have been another "exotic" pet dumped by someone when it got too big, the novelty wore off or too expensive too feed. When abandoned they go hungry because of lack of hunting skills and have no fear of humans.
OldTimer April 03, 2014 at 02:55 PM
All speculation. This is what we do know: (1) The juvenile mountain lion never attacked anyone. (2) No one knows what went on inside the mind of that young, curious mountain lion. (3) The juvenile mountain lion was in it's own protected habitat when executed by a state game official. (4) There were warning signs everywhere notifying hikers of the danger of wild animals in the park. It's probably not a good idea to take small children into an open park inhabited by wild animals. (5) Game officials routinely tranquilize and humanely capture other wild animals (bears, coyotes, camels (yes, camels), etc..., even when they have encroached into human residential neighborhoods and have been known to endanger human life or even actually harm human life and property. (6) Acording to all reports no attempt whatsoever was made to capture the mountain lion in a humane manner. (7) The OC State game official took lethal action against the young lion and executed it with a bullet from his service weapon. (8) Wildlife sanctuaries oftentimes provide homes to wild animals that cannot be relocated in the wild after humane capture. There are many wildlife sanctuaries in the United States. These are the reported facts. You can draw your own conclusions.
Rachel Moore Kelley April 03, 2014 at 08:15 PM
Concerning relocation: There were 2 juvenile mountain lions near Dove Canyon last year. My friend's 2 greyhounds were mauled by one of them in her fenced yard during the day last May. Her yard borders Cleveland National Forest. It was only considered property damage by state officials. They could not relocate the lions into a different area, because they would be killed by the resident male. The juveniles were abandoned by their mother and just learning how to hunt, so they were making mistakes. I suspect that was the case for the Whiting Ranch lion. I agree, a wildlife sanctuary would have been better.
PK April 04, 2014 at 04:03 PM
^ Her yard borders the Cleveland National Forrest". When are people ever going to take responsibility on where they decide to move? Or Take their children hiking? Move to a wild place understand what that means. Take your kids on a hike into the Wilderness understand what you are doing. These places are wild. There is hardly any open space left in Southern California, yet developers and our leader keeps building more houses and freeways. So who will ever take the real responsibility? Every time I hear stories like this, it just pisses me off! People move right next to the Wilderness, but expect it to be like the city. So many people are just so clueless. Including this lady who brought 2 small kids into a known mountain lion habitat and then calls in the Calvary when she see's a mountain lion, just being a "Mountain Lion" What a fool. so if she goes to Big Bear and sees a bear show its teeth she's gonna panic and get them to shoot it as well? Go to Sea World then lady!
OldTimer April 04, 2014 at 04:45 PM
It's the contradictory nature of man, PK. We were born into it. Man often makes individual choices that result in less than ideal outcomes. Then he blames his choice on others. We are born into it, just as some speculate we were born into 'original sin'. It's the price we pay for being human (whether we made that choice or not) Note: No mortal really knows whether we made a choice to take human form. But don't try to explain this to the ones you mentioned above. Chances are they will just get mad at you and nothing will get accomplished.

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