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Mountain Lion Killed After Encounter With Family

A young mountain lion showed aggressive behavior toward a family as it was hiking

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Wildlife officers in Orange County defended their decision to kill a mountain lion saying relocation would not solve the problem. Vikki Vargas reports from Lake Forest for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (Published Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014)

    A mountain lion was killed Sunday afternoon in Orange County after it stalked a mother and her two young children who were hiking.

    Ten minutes into the family's hike on the Borrego Canyon Trail, the mother heard a rustling sound in the bushes. She then saw a male cub six feet away that began to home in on her 5-year-old son, she said.

    Mountain Lion Nearly Attacks Boy

    [LA] Mountain Lion Nearly Attacks Boy
    A mountain lion nearly attacked a 5-year-old boy on an Orange County hiking trail. Vikki Vargas reports from Foothill Ranch for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 31, 2014. (Published Monday, Mar 31, 2014)

    "When he moved to come back towards me, the mountain lion crouched down," said the mother, who asked to be identified only as Madison. "(He) had his little beady eyes focused on my son, showed his teeth — definitely very aggressive and wanted my son."

    Her instinct was to run. A nearby hiker yelled at the woman to stop and throw rocks at the lion.

    Madison was amazed that the 1-year-old, 60-pound mountain lion came as close as he did.

    "That lion should have been scared and ran away and it was definitely out to hurt somebody," she said.

    It didn’t take officials long to locate the big cat.

    Within 30 minutes, he was shot by California Fish and Wildlife agents who said the difficult decision to kill the mountain lion was made because he became an issue of public safety.

    "If we were to move that animal, what we're taking is an animal that's shown to be a public safety threat and we're moving it somewhere else where that same thing may occur again," said Dan Sforza, California Fish and Wildlife assistant chief.

    Based on its age and size, experts believe the lion got separated from its food-providing mother and was still learning how to hunt.

    There were several mountain lion sightings last month. A big cat attacked and killed a family’s German Shepherd in Fontana. Another one was caught on surveillance video in the Hollywood Hills roaming the narrow streets at night.

    Officials warn not to run during an encounter with a mountain lion. The best course of action is to throw rocks and sticks and appear larger by waving your arms in the air.

    "Make yourself very aggressive to the mountain lion so it understands that you are not an easy prey animal," Park Ranger Steve Aleshire said.