Mountain lion has departed Laguna Greenbelt, biologist says

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A male mountain lion was recorded walking down South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach by a Laguna Beach police patrol unit early Monday morning. Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

A male mountain lion spotted in Laguna Beach departed the South Coast wilderness before the Coastal Fire started Wednesday, a state wildlife biologist said.

The radio-collared cougar made national news after a Laguna Beach police dash camera recorded the cat walking down Coast Highway. It’s unclear what exact route the cat used to reach the Santa Ana foothills, said Rebecca Barboza, a wildlife biologist with the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

“Mountain Lions have very large home ranges and just because he’s left Laguna Beach doesn’t mean he won’t return so it’s important [residents] stay vigilant and with their pets and other attractants,” Barboza said.

There are still no reported conflicts between this mountain lion and people or their pets, she added.

“He’s sticking to more wildland areas and appears to be feeding on deer,” Barboza said.

Researchers believe the mountain traveled down Trabuco Creek and through a concrete channel under the I-5 Freeway to reach Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, said Winston Vickers, a research professor at UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine.

Laguna Beach police officers attempted to follow the cougar down Coast Highway but it jumped an eight-foot wall and they were unable to relocate it on May 9, said Jim Beres, civilian services administrator for the Laguna Beach Police Department. The cat was prowling Laguna Canyon last week, according to satellite data reviewed by researchers.

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