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The Outdoors Digest | BRIEFS

Another cougar prowls hiking trails

March 09, 2004|Joe Robinson

It was no mere walk in the park for a couple of hikers who had a pulse-pounding faceoff with a mountain lion last week on the trail at Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve in the Santa Ana Mountains.

A man and his daughter found themselves in a standoff in broad daylight last Tuesday with a small but aggressive cougar. The animal repeatedly advanced toward them, but they were able to drive it back by shouting at it.

With the memory of the lion attack on cyclists at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in January still vivid, the reaction from park officials was swift. The reserve was closed while officials tried to track down the 80- to 90-pound cat, which, though a juvenile, can still be a hazard to life and limb.

"He's a predator in training," said Mike McBride, assistant chief for the state Department of Fish and Game. "He's learning, but if you're part of the learning curve, you're in trouble."

The park was reopened Monday, although officials said they had been unable to find the cat and had suspended the search. Signs posted at trailheads warn hikers of the incident and, ranger Kevin Smith said, "the lion could still be out there and possibly dangerous."


Joe Robinson

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