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O.C. wilderness park reopened; mountain lion will be held

July 17, 2012 |  6:39 pm

More photos: Orange County mountain lion

Park officials have reopened a south Orange County wilderness park after state wildlife officials lured and trapped a 100-pound male mountain lion repeatedly seen stalking the same area in recent days.

The 100-pound mountain lion, which was captured in Whiting Ranch Wilderness park early Tuesday, will be kept in captivity indefinitely, though officials hope to eventually re-locate the animal.

“We didn’t feel comfortable leaving it,” said Capt. Dan Sforza of the Department of Fish and Game, who said the mountain lion was exhibiting “very unusual behavior” and appeared abnormally unfazed by humans. Initially, park officials thought the cat was a mother with kittens nearby. It turned out to be a male.

PHOTOS: Mountain lion captured in O.C. park

A Fish and Game warden summoned to the park Monday spotted the mountain lion on Serrano Cow Trail, a favorite route with mountain bikers. The warden shot the animal with beanbag rounds, and after that failed, a pepper ball.

Finally, it skulked into some brush.

“This is not the type of behavior we like to see in a lion,” Sforza said.

The warden baited a metal cage, waited, and shortly after midnight Tuesday, the mountain lion was trapped.

While the wilderness park is now open, Serrano Cow Trail remains closed. Officials are concerned the animal is young enough that it could have been  with a mother or sibling. Additional cameras have been set up in the foothills.

In the meantime, a Lake Forest veterinarian who examined the mountain lion reported that everything seemed normal with the animal.


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Photo: A young mountain lion that was trapped near the Serrano Cow Trail in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times