Last Wednesday, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens and local animal control officers tranquilized and captured a mountain lion that had been spotted several times during the day near a hillside, gated retirement community in Mission Viejo, California.
According to CDFW spokesman Andrew Hughan, the mountain lion was a 70-lb female, believed to be 2 to 3 years old and appeared healthy.
Last year, local researchers with the Southern California Mountain Lion Project documented an adult female with large cubs near this area. The lion relocated by CDFW on Wednesday may have been one of the dispersing offspring, but because she was not tagged we don't know for sure.
The sedated mountain lion, named by one of the Mission Viejo residents as "Mabel," was transported to nearby Cleveland National Forest where she was later released back into the wild.
The release site was still within a typical home range size for an adult female lion. So if she is an established territorial female, she was not displaced from her home. And if she was a younger female still in search of a home range, she is now farther away from the city and on a much better path for a dispersing lion.
This was a win-win situation for everyone — human and feline — in the community.
Thanks to Senate Bill 132 and new policies within the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, wardens are receiving more training and tools for resolving lion encounters without bullets. And because of opportunities to tag along in the field with the local mountain lion research project, some wildlife officers near Orange County have become fairly comfortable working with lions.
CDFW advises the public that if anyone encounters a mountain lion they should remain calm, try to appear larger and make a lot of noise. If the animal is in a wilderness area, try and let it be. If it's in a populated area, residents should call 911 and Fish and Wildlife's Cal-Tip line at 888-334-2258.
Under the new California law, only mountain lions exhibiting aggressive behavior towards the pubic can be killed for safety purposes.
Please consider sending a quick email to CDFW Director Bonham (Director@wildlife.ca.gov) thanking his department and the wildlife officers for their professionalism in properly handling the Mission Viejo lion encounter.
A female mountain lion wakes up in the Cleveland National Forest after she was sedated and removed from the backyard of a Mission Viejo home Wednesday evening. Photos courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
PS - MLF is looking into the killing of a one-year old mountain lion for "aggressive behavior" in the nearby Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park over the weekend.