Mountain Lion put down after killing family pet

Brian WilkinsonSeptember 19, 2012 

A 90-pound male mountain lion was trapped and killed by a United States Department of Agriculture trapper near Bass Lake Sept. 14.

Trapper Randy Partch was acting on a permit issued by the Department of Fish & Game to dispose of the animal after it killed a family goat on private property near Bass Lake. The property owners, who reported the incident to Fish & Game, said they, along with neighbors, feared for the safety of small children and other pets in the neighborhood.

The big cat had killed the goat the night before and was expected to return to feed on the animal the next night, which it did. The cat was discovered in the trap early the next morning by the homeownerabout 5 a.m. and Partch shot the cat after arriving at the house about 8 a.m.

Dan Fidler, wildlife biologist for the Department of Fish & Game, said the cat died instantly from a single rifle shot to the head.

Fidler said the only two reasons a mountain lion can be killed by a trapper is if the animal is a threat to public safety or the animal has killed livestock, which was the case with this particular cat.

Cats are generally not relocated, because they are very territorial and they will fight to the death for territory.

"In cases like this, we usually do not transport the animal because that would just move the problem from one area to another," Fidler said.

Fidler said it is very rare for a mountain lion to attack anything but deer, its primary source of food.

"Attacks on people are very rare," Fidler said. "And to my recollection, I can't recall the last time there was a human-lion conflict in our region. People still need to remember that wherever there are deer, there will be mountain lions and they should take proper precautions when recreating or living in lion country. Know your surroundings, carry a flashlight after dark and always use the buddy-system when hiking," Fidler said.

Mountain lions have always been in the Mountain Area, although reported sightings have seemed to increase in recent years. A year ago a mountain lion was spotted in Ridgeline Estates at Bass Lake and three cats were seen near a house around Crane Valley Road (426) and Echo Valley Road (423).

At the time, Tim Dunbar, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, said the cats naturally see people as a fellow predator, not prey, and there is little to fear.

According to Dunbar, there have been 14 fatal cougar attacks in the North American continent in the last 100 years, compared to 15,000 people being killed by lighting, 10,000 by deer and 4,000 by bees.

Dunbar said homeowners can take precautions by bringing their pets in at night and using enclosed structures for small livestock.

Additional information about mountain lions can be seen at mountainlion.org.

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