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115-Pound Mountain Lion Up a Tree, but Not for Long

May 26, 1985|ROXANA KOPETMAN | Times Staff Writer

Like a lost kitten, a 115-pound mountain lion sought temporary refuge Saturday in the backyard tree of a Mission Viejo home.

But the big cat did not make 24958 Tree Ave. his home for long. A call to the Sheriff's Department brought a helicopter, animal control officers and sheriff's deputies. The cat managed to elude them all for about two hours before Paul Henisey, who lives several houses down the street, saw in a bush what at first looked like "the hindquarters of a big German shepherd dog."

"I saw him look up at me, and I realized it was a mountain lion," Henisey said.

The mountain lion, a young adult male, was tranquilized with a dart from a rifle and taken to the Orange County Animal Shelter in Orange.

Stirs Agitation

The incident has stirred a bit of agitation in the neighborhood, where a handful of residents had been calling county officials for several days to report the presence of a wild animal, said Jack Edwards, the shelter's kennel services chief.

According to accounts by several neighbors, the animal was tranquilized and then half-carried and half-dragged by its four-foot tail to a truck.

The animal will be checked today by state Department of Fish and Game officials and returned to the wild if found healthy, Edwards said.

A small population of mountain lions inhabits the rugged hills and canyons of the Santa Ana Mountains. They normally are wary of humans, and sightings are uncommon. They prey primarily on deer, and there have been very few documented attacks on humans by mountain lions.

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