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OC mountain lion sightings put hikers, bikers on edge

Several sightings of mountain lions have been reported in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park near Lake Forest.
February 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A mountain lion alert in south Orange County: Several big cats have been sighted in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park near Lake Forest. Trails are being monitored and warning signs are going up.

A photo of a mountain lion perched in a tree in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park has been circulating online. One of the recent mountain lion sightings that the OC Parks agency says prompted officials to post warnings.

"On the Friday night incident, two youths were walking on the trail, noticed a mountain lion to the side of the trail, left the area. And the mountain lion was witnessed by a homeowner walking the other direction along the trail," said OC Parks Ranger Steve Aleshire.

The park is popular with hikers and bikers. It's surrounded by homes and commercial buildings.

Whiting Ranch is the same place where a mountain lion mauled two cyclists in 2004, killing one of them. That 110-pound animal was shot and killed. In 2012, Fish and Wildlife officials captured another mountain lion for the public's safety.

"That particular animal had atypical behavior and had very little fear of humans," said Aleshire.

With the recent sightings in the Borrego Trail area, officials say the park remains open, but warning signs have gone up at park entrances. Cameras have also been installed in the area.

So far, officials don't know if the recent sightings are of the same mountain lion.

Park officials warn people to hold your ground if you see a mountain lion.

"You don't run; wave your arms; yell if need be," said Aleshire.


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