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IRVINE : Lion Watch Keeps Mason Park Closed

October 05, 1994|RUSS LOAR

The mountain lion watch continues in the Turtle Rock community even though a rash of new sightings failed to produce any hard evidence of the big cats in the nearby wilderness area of William R. Mason Regional Park.

But wildlife officials are taking no chances. They will keep the county wilderness trail in the regional park closed.

"We still haven't had confirmed evidence of any mountain lion sightings in that area," said Bruce Buchman, district supervisor for the central district of the county's regional park system. "We're not sure whether they're actually seeing a mountain lion or a bobcat or a large dog. But until we can confirm whether there's a mountain lion there or not, the trail will remain closed."

Buchman would not estimate how long the trail will be off limits.

Irvine animal services superintendent Carl Pagano said his agency has received six reports within the last few weeks of mountain lions near Turtle Rock.

"We've had no situation where an animal has attacked anybody or killed a household pet," Pagano said. "We weren't able to conclusively find tracks or any evidence."

Mountain lions typically travel into new areas in pursuit of food, according to Pagano, who said it is not uncommon for people to confuse the smaller, shorter-tailed bobcat with a mountain lion.

Anyone who thinks they've sighted a mountain lion in the Turtle Rock area should call Irvine Animal Services at (714) 724-7740.

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