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Cougar spotted in San Gabriel Valley dies after capture*

May 9, 2008 | 12:57 pm

*1:03 p.m. For an update on the dead cougar and a photo, go to L.A. Now

A mountain lion found in a San Gabriel Valley neighborhood died after being tranquilized by wildlife authorities, the Associated Press reports.

The big cat was spotted sitting on a sound wall next to Interstate 210 early Tuesday, said Harry Morse of the state Department of Fish and Game.

Wardens fired two or three tranquilizer darts at the animal as it fled across three backyards. Morse said one dart hit the cat in the face and it went down in a clump of bushes.

"The shot went astray, and caused an injury that would not allow the animal to be re-released in the wild," and game wardens euthanized it, Morse said. "This is one of those unfortunate situations where an animal got into a place where it was just going the wrong way."

When game wardens tranquilize large predatory animals, 10% don’t survive, he said.

The animal shot Thursday was about 1 year old, an age when young males leave their mothers.

"It’s not uncommon for them to wander and they move about areas at night," he said, but they usually avoid people. "This one may have been totally lost."

Morse said wildlife wardens had to remove the mountain lion because it was so close to the freeway.

"Had this lion jumped over the fence and onto the 210," he said, "you would have had a hazard to people and a hazard to the lion."

Experts calculate there are 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions statewide, the Department of Fish and Game's website says.

It was unclear if the mountain lion shot Thursday was the same big cat spotted last week in Eagle Rock.

-- Francisco Vara-Orta

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