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Warden kills mountain lion in Sunland neighborhood

April 24, 2012 |  7:14 am

A Department of Fish and Game warden shot and killed an 80-pound mountain lion after a resident spotted the big cat hiding in the bushes near her home.

It happened in the foothills below Angeles National Forest, where resident Marlene Hitt was closing her garage door Friday afternoon when she spotted the mountain lion.

"I heard a bang and looked down and saw a mountain lion run out as fast as it could," Hitt told KTLA-TV. She called 911 and when police arrived, the lion was hiding in the bushes, under a tree.

"I heard five shots and I knew they had found it," Hitt said.

Officers fired the shots to scare the animal and confine it to the area until Fish and Game arrived. But when wardens showed up, one of them fired the killing shot in the lion's head.

"It was afraid, I'm sure, but I don't think it suffered at all," Hitt said.

Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game said the warden felt shooting the animal was necessary to keep the neighborhood safe.

Weeks ago, wardens used tranquilizer darts to subdue a 400-pound bear that wandered through a La Crescenta neighborhood. Fish and Game officials said that same strategy didn't make sense for the mountain lion.

"Shooting an animal with the darts is not like in the movies," said Fish and Game warden Andrew Hughman. "You hit the animal, the animal becomes very agitated, very angry very quickly, and it doesn't just fall down and go to sleep, the drugs can take several minutes to activate."

Meanwhile, some of Hitt's neighbors were not pleased the lion was killed.

"We need these animals, if we don't have mountain lions in our local areas, we're going to have too many rabbits, too many deer, too many coyotes," said neighbor Dana Stangel. "It upsets me greatly."

But other neighbors said extreme measures should be taken when a predator gets a little too close for comfort.

"I'm just sorry it was forced to wander into a neighborhood," Hitt said.


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