Southern California

Mountain Lion Kills Prized Pygmy Goats in Orange County

A mountain lion was caught on camera breaking into an Orange County pen before killing eight prized pygmy goats that a youth group had been caring for, the kids said Wednesday.

Eight out of nine goats in a pen were killed.

The video shows a mountain lion leaping onto a 10-foot-high pen in a single bound at the Trabuco Trailblazer's 4-H Club, a club at the 31802 Las Amigas Drive in Trabuco Canyon. The youth-development club cared for the goats.

As upset as the members of the youth group were, they said they understood the lion was acting on instinct.

"I wanted to come out here to see them because I knew I'd regret it if I didn't come out here one last time, which was hard to see them that way," said 4-H member Maddie Cota.

Maddie lost her 8-year-old pygmy goat named Howard. She's a high school senior and it's her last year with the club.

Inside the pen where the mountain lion attacked were nine pygmy goats total with names like Tucker and Bodie. At least one was a champion, and the others had been show goats throughout Southern California.

Organizers said they did their best to protect the animals with hog paneling and even a tin roof on top.

The mountain lion didn't touch the pigs in the neighboring pens.

"I was sad but at the same time I knew something like this could happen," said 4-H member Brandon Morgan. "But it's the country."

Experts believe the lion will return again to claim its prey.

Wildlife veterinarian Winston Vickers said based on what he has seen in video and from the damage, the mountain lion is a male, two to three years old, and determined.

"He knew he had dead animals to eat and would naturally come back and try to grab one and get it out of the pen," Vickers said.

As for the Trabuco Trailblazers club, this has been a rough life lesson, knowing their prized pets could not defend themselves.

The mountain lion could be hunted, and the 4-H club has 10 days to ask for a permit to do so.

Vickers has been studying mountain lions in the Trabuco Canyon area for years. He said the animals are in breeding, which causes their population to diminish. He's advising ranchers to add motion-activated lights or sprinklers to protect their animals knowing that in time the lions could adapt to those type of alarms as well.

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