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Cougar caught in OC park will live in captivity

cougar coyote

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Department of Fish and Game officials shut down an OC wilderness park on Monday night after catching wind of a video shot on Sunday of a non-camera shy cougar sauntering across a hiking trail in front of a flustered coyote.

The OC Register reported that a 100-pound male mountain lion was trapped in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park early Tuesday and evaluated by veterinarian Scott Weldy at the Serrano Animal Hospital in Lake Forest. Weldy said the cat was calm and in good shape, but that the number of ticks on the animal "seems a little unusual." Blood tests were being conducted.

Game wardens were hoping to relocate the mountain lion which did not turn tail even after beanbag-type rounds were fired in an effort to scare it off, said OC Parks spokeswoman Marisa O'Neil. The animal did not show signs of aggression, but it was also not frightened by humans, said officials.

State wildlife officials ultimately decided on Tuesday to keep the animal in a facility instead of releasing it back into the wild. Andrew Hughan with the Department of Fish and Game spoke with KPCC about how wardens were able to safely capture the creature this morning.

"They put some meat inside the cage, and the lion was hungry enough, [and]went inside the cage after the piece of meat," he explained. "The trap door shuts, then they take the lion away."

The Serrano Cow Trail will remain closed until further notice, but the park was reopened as of late Tuesday morning, said officials. The mother or siblings of the captured lion may still be in the area.

A mountain lion was fatally shot after killing one bicyclist and mauling another at the same park in 2004.

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