South County : Report of Puma Closes Parts of Caspers Park
After a camper’s report of sighting a mountain lion, Orange County officials have closed trails and picnic areas at Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park through today.
District Park Supervisor Anthony E. Gimbrone said Tuesday that he took the precautionary measure Monday after a camper Sunday night reported seeing a cougar rummage through a trash bin in the park, located east of San Juan Capistrano.
Gimbrone said the park’s campsites will remain open despite the closure of the trails and picnic areas because no tracks or other physical evidence of puma activity has been found to corroborate Sunday night’s sighting.
“One day last year three campers in another park swore up and down that they had seen a bear, and it turned out to be a Great Dane (dog),” Gimbrone said.
“Such things happen all the time. But we have set procedures we follow whenever we get a reported sighting, and it involves shutting down trails and picnic areas for three straight days to give us a chance to get our people up there to look for signs of high lion activity. So far we haven’t found anything.”
Gimbrone said he does not know how many people were turned away from the closed areas of the park Monday, when large Memorial Day crowds had been expected.
The area’s mountain lion population has been a controversial subject since a young girl was mauled in the park last year and a cougar was photographed in the brush, a few feet behind a family having their picture taken.