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‘Enormous’ Mountain Lion Kills Dog on Porch of Home : Fillmore: Game wardens mount search for cat, which ran off with 75-pound husky in its jaws. Predator also may have taken calves.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Game wardens searched Monday for a mountain lion that killed a Fillmore screenwriter’s 75-pound Siberian husky and may have taken nine calves from a neighbor’s herd.

Paul Glen Neuman said he awoke at 1 a.m. Monday to find a huge mountain lion crouched on his front porch, teeth sunk into the neck of his howling dog, Brittany.

Neuman screamed. But the lion bit down, leaped over the porch rail and vanished into the shadows of a nearby orange grove with the dog’s limp body in its jaws.

“This thing was enormous, it was just absolutely enormous--its head was the size of a medium pizza,” said Neuman, 44, who stood just 18 inches away as the beast killed his pet. “If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it. Our dog was a heavy dog, and this cat just . . . jumped off the porch with it.”

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The dog’s death was the latest in a recent string of mountain lion encounters around the state.

On Dec. 10, a 58-year-old woman was killed while hiking in San Diego County. And in April, a 40-year-old woman was killed while jogging near Sacramento. In both cases, the lions were hunted and killed.

State officials temporarily closed a Moorpark area park Sept. 9 after a mountain lion threatened two horseback riders. Horses survived two lion attacks in Agoura in May.

A lion was killed last year on the Santa Paula Freeway near Fillmore, and lions were also seen crossing the Ventura Freeway on the Conejo Grade east of Camarillo.

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State Fish and Game wardens have issued warnings recently about hungry mountain lions prowling backcountry fringes that border Ventura County neighborhoods.

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The state’s mountain lion population has boomed since 1990, when voters passed Proposition 117 to outlaw killing the animals, said state Fish and Game Warden Holly Etheridge.

“They’re breeding,” she said. “And with more people in the state, they’re running out of habitat and they’re getting closer to people.”

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Neuman said he was roused from sleep early Monday by a loud thump and ferocious barking on the tiny porch of his Fillmore home, which is surrounded by orange groves.

“I figured some dog had come on the porch,” he said. “And I ran to the front door, threw open the door and turned the porch light on, intending to break up the fight.”

As the lion’s eyes flicked up toward him, Neuman screamed, trying to scare it off. But the animal crushed Brittany’s neck, vaulted the rail and loped down the driveway, across a road and into a citrus grove, Neuman said.

Monday afternoon, game wardens followed broad paw prints and a trail of blood between the trees, looking for the body of the 3-year-old husky.

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But the trail disappeared into bamboo thickets lining the nearby Santa Clara River, and wardens were unable to find the mountain lion or its prey, Etheridge said.

Wildlife officials are still weighing whether to ignore the lion, issue hunting permits to farmers whose livestock is threatened or track down the animal themselves, she said.

Some of Neuman’s neighbors said they will give up solitary hikes for a while and keep their pets and children indoors.

Neuman said that when he warned neighbors, several of them reported spotting the lion. And cattle rancher Yulan Miller said he suspects the big cat has killed nine of his calves in two months.

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The calves would never stray from their mothers, Miller said.

“The oldest one was three weeks old. He gets them as soon as they hit the ground,” Miller said. “They’re just disappearing on me. . . . He’s eating my bread and milk.”

Etheridge said people should not hike or walk alone where a mountain lion has been sighted. And if you encounter a mountain lion, do not run, she said. Back away from it and make loud noises to scare it off.

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