Trapper says confirmed mountain lion sighting at Susanville Ranch Park was large
Affonso said the animal in the picture was obviously a house cat. He said adult female mountain lions weigh an average of 90 pounds and males weigh up to 160 lbs. The cat in the picture was a much smaller animal.
Affonso said people just naturally exaggerate the size of animals they see in the wild.
“It happens all the time,” Affonso told the Rotary club.
Three people reported seeing the mountain lion. After the original January report by a hiker, a school employee and another park visitor also reported seeing it.
Five sheriff’s officers, two police officers, Affonso and California Department of Fish and Game Sgt. Lisa Stone responded to the park. Lassen County personnel put up mountain lion warning signs at the park that afternoon.
Stone said they didn’t see a lion, though deputies spotted many sets of lion tracks.
Though the cat in questions was not a mountain lion, Affonso said there are mountain lions at Susanville Ranch Park.
“Deer and lions do exist out there in the park,” Stone said at the time.
Since deer are cougars’ preferred prey, and deer roam all over north Susanville, Stone said, “There are a lot of places where they can hang back and do their natural thing.”
At the time, Stone said she was concerned about the sighting “because of the school.”
She added, “We do err on the side of caution especially when it comes to children.”
The night janitor at Meadow View Elementary School, which abuts the park, saw the cat and mistook it for a cougar, or mountain lion, two nights in a row on the school campus near the portable building closest to the park, according to MV Principal Chuck Spence. She reported seeing the lion at 9 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29 and Tuesday, Jan. 30.
Following those sightings, Affonso announced plans to drag brush all trails with an ATV the night of Jan. 31 to erase all the dog and people tracks and give Stone a better idea of what deer and lions are doing. Since city and county law enforcement are charged with public safety, if they are called with a credible threat to public safety, they can shoot a lion, Stone said.
She recommend people call the DFG when they have a sighting “so I’m not hearing things third-hand, it makes my job a lot easier,” she said. Stone said she is dispatched by Susanville office of the California Highway Patrol, so anyone sighting a lion may also call the CHP.
Since voters passed Proposition 117, the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990, hunting mountain lions has been illegal. Since then reports of human sightings and injury by mountain lions have been increasing.
Affonso said the mountain lion population in Lassen County has definitely increase since then.
Since Susanville Ranch Park is a natural deer migration trail, people who feed deer actually attract the predator to residential areas. Stone urged those who feed deer to stop.
“If people would not feed those deer, they would be a lot more afraid of people, a lot less clustered around and they would suffer less disease,” she said in February.
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