State Help Sought in Cougar Sightings

County park rangers have asked the state Department of Fish and Game to investigate recent mountain lion sightings at Aliso and Woods Canyons Regional Park.

Local rangers could not confirm that animal prints reported last weekend by park visitors were from mountain lions, so they are seeking help from state experts, said Bruce Buchman, a supervising ranger.

"We don't have a (clear) print or a biologist or someone who is more attuned to what a mountain lion would look like," Buchman said. His staff inspected the park Monday, but with vague results--they found animal prints in sandy terrain, Buchman said, but the prints were obscured by a bicycle track.

On Tuesday, state wildlife officials said they had not decided whether to send biologists to the Aliso Viejo park.

"Seeing a mountain lion in the wild is not unique anymore, and the mountain lion is not hurting anyone," said Patrick Moore, a Fish and Game spokesman based in Long Beach. "That is where mountain lions belong, doing what mountain lions do. If they were acting in an aggressive manner, that's a different matter."

Orange County park rangers posted about a dozen signs Monday throughout the 3,400-acre park, informing visitors about the sightings. The signs will be left up for two to four weeks, Buchman said.

A couple biking through the park Sunday told park rangers they saw what looked like a cougar. A man riding a bicycle also reported a mountain lion near an abandoned corral by a bike trail, and another man reported seeing one April 25 and April 27, Buchman said.

"The good news . . . is that all the sightings have not involved a bold or aggressive mountain lion, so I wouldn't be any more worried here than in any other park," he said.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
67°