A bold cougar prompts closure - Big cat showed no fear when
confronted by mule riders at Caspers park
Capt. Jerry Spansail of the State Department of Fish and Game said Monday that the cougar, probably a young male, failed to show fear when it was encountered by at least two mule riders about 5 p.m. Saturday. The lion, seen twice by the riders, might even have been following them, although that was uncertain.
The lion was then frightened off by one of the mules.
"It's probably a situation where we have a young, immature lion being overly curious," Spansail said.
Orange County parks officials and state Fish and Game personnel took precautions nevertheless. Areas of the park used only for hiking or picnicking during the day were closed Sunday and Monday, Spansail said, although overnight camping areas remained open. Game wardens went to the park armed with weapons, including a rifle.
The wardens always take firearms when investigating mountain lion problems, Spansail said, so the presence of such weapons did not mean they planned to shoot the lion. The wardens did not see the cougar, and county park ranger John Gannaway said the park would be reopened to daytime use today.
Mountain lion tracks are routinely seen at the park, which has the most reported mountain lion sightings of any county park.
Visitors have been stalked, though such incidents are rare. And two small children were injured in mountain lion attacks in 1986.
The lion was shot to death that evening.
Another lion or lions appeared on a security camera tape near a Catholic high school in Rancho Santa Margarita last month.
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