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Trails closed after big cat sightings

Ventura officials block paths above Arroyo Verde Park and warn hikers to take care.

June 12, 2007|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

After three reported mountain lion sightings in recent days, Ventura police Monday closed off popular hiking trails above Arroyo Verde Park on the city's east end.

Trail heads were blocked and signs posted warning the public that a mountain lion, and possibly cubs, were on the prowl in the chaparral-covered hills.

"We are just warning the public to stay away as a precaution right now," said Ventura Police Lt. Ray Vance. "It's best to stay inside the park and avoid the hills, especially at dawn, dusk and nighttime, when they are most active."

There have been no reported attacks.

The first sighting was called in to police late Friday, and the second occurred about 2 p.m. Saturday, authorities said.

On Sunday, someone reported seeing a cub about 6 p.m., Vance said.

Harry Morse, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game, said mountain lions often roam in an area, then move on. Authorities said they would monitor the situation.

"They could disappear in a few days. That's very common in mothers with cubs," Morse said. "They don't want to expose their young to an area that is populated."

Vance said mountain lion sightings are common, especially in areas where deer are present. He said that, though attacks are rare, people should keep an eye on their children and pets and that joggers should be careful when using trails.

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