State Draws 190 Names for Mountain Lion Hunt

Times Staff Writer

In California's first computerized mountain lion lottery, 190 winners were drawn Monday from a field of 3,345 applicants who paid $5 each for a chance at a hunting permit good for one cougar.

The hunting season on mountain lions, scheduled to begin Oct. 10 and end Dec. 27, is the first authorized by the state in 16 years. It will be limited to selected areas, primarily in Northern and Central California.

Most of Southern California, including Orange and San Diego counties, is excluded. Peggy Blair, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Game Department, said the hunt will have no significant impact on the state's overall mountain lion population.

Last year two children were mauled by mountain lions in Caspers Wilderness Park near San Juan Capistrano.

Since then, there have been several other sightings of mountain lions in southern Orange County, and some residents have called for a hunt to reduce the numbers of cougars in the wilderness areas there and in northern San Diego County.

The state Fish and Game Department originally recommended that Orange and San Diego counties be included in the hunting areas, but the policy-making state Fish and Game Commission overruled that recommendation.

"The commission indicated it wanted more data about that area," Blair said.

She said this fall's hunt will touch Southern California only in parts of Ventura and Kern counties.

The state has estimated that there are about 5,100 mountain lions now living in the wild in California, Blair said, but only about 400 to 560 of those are in Southern California.

In Monday's drawing, Blair said, a computer drew 190 names and 67 alternates from the field of 3,345 who had paid $5 each to participate in the lottery. The 190 will be offered the opportunity to buy a license for $75.

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