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Mountain lion killed after preying on petting zoo goats

December 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
At Oak Tree Village's Animal Park, the petting zoo is a maze of fences. The structures are designed to keep the goats, pigs and other animals safely inside - and predators out.

So when owner Terry Fox learned of a mountain lion terrorizing another local petting zoo, she was concerned.

"Usually we all take precautions when a mountain lion is out and about, so we always make sure things are more secure," said Terry Fox of Oak Tree Village.

At Riley's Petting Zoo, which is not far from Fox's petting zoo, eight goats are all that remain after a 7-year-old female mountain lion killed 13 goats.

According to the owner, who did not want to be identified, the lion started with the baby goats and worked up to the large ones.

On Christmas Day, the cougar returned to a previous kill and was shot by the owner's son.

A permit to shoot the mountain lion was issued by the Department of Fish and Game after they investigated and determined that the lion was a threat not only to livestock, but to the community as well.

An official with the Department of Fish and Game says they do not relocate the animals because of territorial issues with other mountain lions. They also say mountain lions continue to return where prey is easiest to find, and while attacks on humans are rare, they are not unheard of.

"To have them come that close to where we live, that's kind of dangerous. What about kids and children and families? If they will kill an animal, what would they do to a human?" said Tracy Copeland.

But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called the mountain lion killing tragic and 100 percent preventable.

"As long as sheep, goats, and other 'prey animals' are confined to enclosures designed to prevent escape but that offer little to no protection from predators, lives will be lost," PETA said in a statement.

But Fox said she agrees that there was no other option.

"It's always sad when that happens because you never want to see the wildlife have to be killed, but once they do, and they start killing the animals, you really don't have any other recourse," Fox said.

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