Orange County

Warning Issued After Mountain Lion Spotted in OC Wilderness Park

A level two warning was issued because the animal was seen walking close to a trail used by mountain bikers and runners.

A warning was issued in an Orange County wilderness park after a mountain lion was spotted around 6 p.m. Monday, officials said.

The big cat was spotted in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park on Trabuco Canyon – a park that features 17 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails.

Aerial footage from NewsChopper 4 showed Fish and Wildlife officials searching the area with flashlights by ground around 10 p.m. Monday.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers were searching for the mountain lion on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, but could not find it. An Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter was also requested to assist with the search.

There are no plans to hunt or relocate the animal which could be anywhere in the park’s 2,500 acres.

A level two warning was issued because the mountain lion seen in the park was not aggressive. It was simply walking close to a trail used by bicyclists and runners.

Warning posters were placed throughout the park after the sighting was confirmed.

The park, located in southeast Orange County within the foothills of the Cleveland National Forest, has a history of mountain lion sightings.

In 2004, a mountain biker was attacked and killed by a mountain lion at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Mark Reynolds, 35, was attempting to fix his bike when the 2004 attack happened. That mountain lion was captured and killed following the attack.

The recent sighting has mountain bikers and hikers on alert.

"Our plan is to stay still, make ourselves as big as possible, make as much noise as possible and hope we scare it off," said mountain biker Brian McNeill.

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