Mountain lion still roams wilderness park near Laguna Beach

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A Mountain lion’s close up. Photo courtesy of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

A young male mountain lion has remained in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park since making his way from Cleveland National Forest late last month.

The radio-collared cat is the first confirmed report of its species in the Laguna Greenbelt in about 20 years, experts said.

“He’s starting to move around a bit more. He made some movements last night,” Winston Vickers, Winston Vickers, a research wildlife veterinarian and director of the California Mountain Lion Project at UC Davis, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Researchers investigated a site in Trabuco Creek west of I-5 where they believe the mountain lion killed and ate a coyote.

“All that was left was his nose,” Vickers said.

Satellite data also showed the cougar loitered for days in the same area of Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, indicating he took down another large animal. Eventually, researchers will try to locate the remains.

“We do it opportunistically. So we will at some point go in there to see what it was,” Vickers said.

It’s important for people accessing Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park to behave as they would in any of the other county and state parks where there is a documented mountain lion population, Vickers said.

“Having mountain lions moving around in these wild areas is totally normal in California. It’s nothing new and nothing that hasn’t been occurring in the past. We may just not have known it,” he said.

As of Monday, Laguna Beach police haven’t fielded any confirmed reports of cougar sightings, city spokesperson Cassie Walder wrote in an email.

“Park rangers at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park are continuing with their regular patrols and following OC Parks mountain lion policies and procedures. The park has not received any recent mountain lion sightings by the public or staff,” OC Parks spokesperson Marisa O’Neil said in a prepared statement Friday.

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