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Cougar Incidents in O.C.

August 24, 1991

October, 1983: Mountain lion sighted near Interstate 5 in the Lake Forest-El Toro area.

May, 1985: 115-pound cougar found in back-yard tree of Mission Viejo home; captured, later released in Cleveland National Forest.

March, 1986: Laura Small is mauled in Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park near San Juan Capistrano; a mountain lion suspected of attack is tracked and killed the next day.

April, 1986: Caspers Park officials announce that all hiking trails and campgrounds there are free of mountain-lion tracks; four days later, fresh tracks of a 70-pound cougar are found nearby.

May, 1986: Warnings posted in Caspers Park after big cat spotted near the park's Live Oak campground.

July, 1986: Female mountain lion and cub captured in same general area where Laura Small was attacked; the two are later placed in a Utah zoo.

August, 1986: U.S. Forest Service firefighter and spare-time trapper Kenneth Jordan, as he is jogging, encounters a mountain lion in Caspers Park but is able to drive it off.

October, 1986: An Irvine couple spot a mountain lion as they are horseback riding in Irvine Regional Park. They report the sighting to a park ranger, but no written report is filed.

October, 1986: Cypress resident Doug Schulthess and family are on a nature hike in Caspers Park; he stops to photograph family members, and a mountain lion approaches within 15 feet of the group.

October, 1986: Justin Mellon mauled by a mountain lion as he and his parents are hiking in Caspers Park.

October, 1986: Orange County sheriff's deputies on a routine helicopter patrol report seeing a mountain lion in a tree in Caspers Park. Animal control officers go to the site but are unable to find the animal.

November, 1986: 70-pound female mountain lion is captured in Caspers Park but is later released there after officials determine there is no evidence to link it with two attacks on human beings in the previous seven months. Tracks of two other lions are also found.

November, 1986: For the second time in a week, a mountain lion is captured in Caspers Park, tagged and returned to the wilderness as part of a behavioral study of the cats.

November, 1986: A couple walking in Cowan Heights, an unincorporated area east of Orange, see a mountain lion. Animal control officers follow the tracks into Peters Canyon but never see the cougar.

December, 1986: Donna Thompson, a visitor from Indiana, reports seeing a mountain lion in O'Neill Regional Park three days after campers there had been evacuated after fresh lion tracks were discovered. (Thompson had returned to retrieve her trailer.) Officials close the park indefinitely.

January, 1987: Rangers report seeing a young mountain lion about three-quarters of a mile from the main gate of O'Neill Park. The same day, a Trabuco Canyon resident sees a small mountain lion cross Live Oak Canyon Road and enter the park.

March, 1987: After officials receive two recent reports of sightings in the same neighborhood, state and county wildlife officials capture a 36-pound mountain lion cub at the northern edge of Lake Mission Viejo. The cub, too young to survive on its own, is taken to the Wildlife Waystation in the San Fernando Valley.

March, 1987: Rangers report 14 cougar sightings during the month--eight in Caspers Park, six in O'Neill Park.

July, 1987: Anaheim resident Jean King is accosted by a mountain lion in a restroom stall at O'Neill Regional Park. The cougar leaves. A wildlife biologist and tracker later identify tracks near the restroom as those of a cougar whose weight was probably more than 100 pounds.

September, 1987: Professional trackers capture an 80-pound mountain lion south of the Ortega Highway and several miles east of San Juan Capistrano. The cat is released after it is fitted with a radio transmitter. It is to be tracked as part of a two-year study of cougars living in the rapidly developing foothills of South County.

October, 1987: A mountain lion whose weight is estimated at 60 pounds is spotted lying beneath a rabbit hutch in the back yard of a Mission Viejo home. The animal flees before animal control officers can arrive.

March, 1988: A 120-pound female mountain lion is shot to death by police as it crouches near a hedge in a Yorba Linda residential neighborhood. The cougar had been roaming the area as children were leaving for school.

March, 1991: Three El Toro families discover that their pet rabbits have been mauled and that there are large paw prints on their lawns. Orange County animal control officials speculated that it may have been a female mountain lion training her cubs to hunt.

Source: Los Angeles Times files.

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