Mountain lion released after being captured in residential area of Ventura County

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Fish and Wildlife officials say they caught and released a mountain lion that ventured into a mobile home park in Ventura County Friday night. 

The big cat — a 75-pound female, approximately 14 months old — was seen in a residential area of South Ventu Park Road in Newbury Park. Fish and Wildlife officials and Ventura County sheriff's officials responded to the area around 5:30 p.m. Friday. 

Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey said the departments worked to clear the area before tranquilizing the animal.

"We had to make sure the area was secure because once you put a dart into a lion, they have the potential to run and we may have to go looking for them," she said. "So we had to make sure a huge area was cleared out."

Mackey said the lion sprinted out and beneath another trailer after it had been darted. She said when they retrieved the lion, they found she was wearing an ear tag that marked her as part of a previous National Park Services study. 

Mackey said the animal — dubbed P34 in the study — probably took a wrong turn when scoping out new territory. 

"When lions reach a certain age — around 14 months — they start venturing out on their own to find their own spot, their own territory," she said. 

This lion was particularly shy, Mackey said, retreating further beneath the trailer when officials shined a light on her.

"So she was pretty upset about where she was, too," Mackey said. "And that's the kind of reaction we want from lions. We don't want them habituated. We don't want them comfortable around people."

P34 was released later in an unspecified area "close to where we think the lion came from," Mackey said.

Most of California is mountain lion habitat, Mackey said. They tend to live wherever deer are plentiful.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife offers tips for avoiding mountain lion encounters on their website. They include: 

  • Don’t feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
  • Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
  • Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums and other potential mountain lion prey.

This story has been updated.

With contributions from Eric Zassenhaus

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