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Police kill mountain lion in Santa Paula

February 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A mountain lion has been shot and killed in a local neighborhood, but the search continues for others that have been spotted recently in a residential area in the city of Santa Paula.There are lots of homes, lots of families, lots of children in the community of the hills of Santa Paula. Authorities say when they spotted a mountain lion in this community just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, they took no chances. They say they cornered the animal and it became aggressive. They in turn took action.

Authorities say residents of the area dialed 911 telling police they had spotted mountain lions, big ones. Authorities say when they arrived they cornered one of the cats, weighing about 35 pounds or more.

Police say they were hoping to corner it and wait for Dept. of Fish and Game officials to arrive so they could tranquilize the animal and cage it. However, the cub became aggressive, and even at 35 pounds, posed a potentially dangerous threat to officers, so they had no choice but to use deadly force.

"One of the cats pretty much showed some type of aggressive nature, and was kind of an imminent threat towards the officers and the public so they had to shoot it," said Santa Paula Police Chief Stephen MacKinnon.

"I'm probably glad 'cause for a lot of kids running around out here and you never know what's going to happen," said local resident David Arquelles. "You know we've got a school down here, Santa Paula High School, and there's always kids running around so you know it's probably the best thing."

"I think it's fine you know. They've got to get him out of the way," said local resident Beverly Harding. "There's children down there playing. They've got to save those little children. They are more important than the wild animals."

Police say since the weekend they have gotten numerous calls from residents about mountain lions roaming the neighborhood. They say Fish and Game officials believe there were five of the big cats prowling the community: two adults, two cubs, and a juvenile. Authorities say with the one they killed Tuesday morning residents should be advised, there could be four still out there.

"So we have been telling residents on a regular basis to keep an eye out, take precautions, don't let the kids go out unsupervised, keep control of your animals and the main thing is that if they do see a cat we want them to call us immediately and hopefully even give us a direction of travel so we can kind of surround them and hopefully tranquilize them and remove them out of the area," said Chief MacKinnon.

Santa Paula police say it has been at least a decade since they have heard of mountain lions roaming communities like this one. They say they don't know why the cats are prowling areas like this.

They want to remind residents, if you spot a mountain lion, dial 911 immediately.


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