Sheriff's deputies and state officials hunted big game in the foothills near La Crescenta on Monday--a mountain lion that they say has killed two dogs and come within 10 feet of humans over the past week.
The most recent encounter was at 1 a.m. Monday, when Chul Yoon was awakened by the barking of his Akita dog on the 2800 block of Pinelawn Drive, said Sgt. Michael Allen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
When Yoon looked out his window, he saw a mountain lion clamp its jaws around the 80-pound dog's neck and drag it over the four-foot stone wall that separates Yoon's back yard from the surrounding woods, Allen said.
Sheriff's deputies alerted officials with the state Department of Fish and Game, and the hunt was on. Sheriff's patrols have been beefed up in the area, and Fish and Game workers are prowling the woods, trying to track the big cat.
Officials believe this lion is the same one that grabbed a dog from the back yard of a house in Blanchard Canyon, a few miles west of Yoon's house, last Tuesday.
When the dog's owner was awakened by its howls, he dashed out on the back porch and stared at the mountain lion, standing a mere 10 feet away, Moore said. The lion fled.
Several residents have also reported seeing a big cat in the Crescenta Valley over the last week, officials said.
"Sightings are not that unusual anymore," said Patrick Moore, a Fish and Game spokesman. But the incidents "indicate that there is a mountain lion up there that's found an easy way to find a meal. It's easier to snatch a dog than spend all that time fighting over deer."
Moore said the mountain lion population has been growing since state-supported bounty hunting of the animals was discontinued in the 1960s.
In the last few years, numerous residents have seen mountain lions in the foothills, as the cats overrun their habitat and suburban developments encroach.
The hunters have orders to shoot to kill, Moore said. "It's just coming too close to human beings for comfort," he said. "The fear is that it's only a matter of time before a human being is involved."