Park Reopens But Visitors Are Sparse After Girl’s Mauling

A trickle of visitors welcomed the reopening of the Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park on Monday, three weeks after it was closed after an attack by a mountain lion on a 5-year-old El Toro girl.

State and Orange County officials decided to reopen the park, just east of San Juan Capistrano, after concluding that the attack on the girl was made by a “rogue” cat, which was later killed.

Discovery of new tracks of other lions “was a natural event in such a wilderness environment,” officials said.

Visitors were issued new information sheets, advising them that they are “entering a wilderness sanctuary that is characterized by native vegetation, rugged terrain and wild animals,” and that these features should be treated “with caution and respect.” Children should be under adult supervision at all times, the handouts advised.

Laura Michele Small has been hospitalized since the lion grabbed her by the head, but hospital officials said she is showing steady improvement.