Gloria Sandoval LaPlant, of Clio’s Rivers Edge RV Park, saw a mountain lion on the property Jan. 9.
“My husband was walking the park, checking for storm damage, and on his way back he walked past the park meeting room, which has a porch attached to it,” LaPlant said. “Our dog usually stops to sniff around and check things out under there, so it wasn’t a big deal when he did this time. Then, his hackles went up and after looking under there, my husband saw the mountain lion taking shelter so he and the dog came back inside.”
A few hours later, the mountain lion was still under the porch, but then came out and walked around the RV Park near LaPlant’s residence.
“This is the third sighting we’ve had in Clio recently, and I’m fairly certain that it’s the same cat that was sighted at the Clio Post Office,” LaPlant commented.
“I like to walk around the park regularly, and so I called the Department of Fish and Wildlife, where the local warden, Brandon Rose, gave advice on how to coexist safely with wildlife such as this mountain lion.”
After LaPlant reported seeing the lion, multiple other reports came through the Forest Service to Fish and Wildlife, about what appeared to be the same lion. After a report of a lion attack on a dog in the same Clio vicinity, Kyle Kroll, a game warden lieutenant with California Fish and Wildlife, became involved with his crew.
“This time of year, the mountain lions tend to follow their main food source,” Kroll said, “which is mainly the deer that migrate to the Clio/Graeagle area.”
After the dog attack and the other calls about the mountain lion, Fish and Wildlife staff went to observe the mountain lion. Kroll noted that it was acting very strange by not leaving populated areas — definitely not typical healthy behavior.
These cats are usually very elusive. The mountain lion appeared to have sustained recent injuries to its leg and hind end, but Fish and Wildlife has yet to determine how those injuries occurred.”
Kroll went on to explain, “Mountain lions are a protected species, and have been since the 1970s. There is no lawful hunting of mountain lions and so situations like this are a bit touchy. There are only two exceptions in the protection act — depredation or imminent threat to public safety.”
Depredation is when a property owner suffers damage caused by wild animals in areas such as Indian Valley, where there are higher risks to livestock such as sheep and goats coming under attack as a meal for the mountain lion.
The game wardens generally only get involved if there is a threat to public safety, such as the threat presented with the mountain lion in Clio.
“Euthanasia is the last thing we want to do,” said Kroll. “However, after assessing the lion and approaching it, and looking at our options, it appeared injured to the extent that it was unable to move away from the residential home where it was located, despite efforts of the officer present to scare it away from the house and back into the forest. This led to the decision to use euthanasia. Preliminary investigation results found when analyzing the lion carcass showed that it had multiple injuries, and these injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle.”
The mountain lion was euthanized in the Whitehawk area Jan. 11, and will undergo a necropsy to determine age, injuries and possible illness.
“This is an out of the ordinary event,” Kroll said. “It’s important to document these occurrences closely, as we continue to gather information on this protected species.”
As of Jan. 12, Kroll is continuing to investigate the details of the incident involving the injured dog, and is available for comments or questions regarding sightings at 575-5736, or visit wildlife.ca.gov. Caltip is also available at 888-334-caltip (2258) as a 24-hour anonymous “turn in poachers/polluters” hotline.