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Mountain lion kills horse near Spanish Creek in Quincy

A 32-year-old mare was killed by a mountain lion in the predawn hours of April 16 on the west end of Quincy, along Spanish Creek off Beskeen Lane, east of Gansner Park.

Accessed from the county park off Highway 70, as well as along Beskeen, the south side of the creek is a popular gathering place year-round for joggers, students, picnickers and families with pets.

The community is urged to exercise caution and be aware while in the area; mountain lions are nocturnal and opportunistic predators.

The lion was determined to be female and in the company of two “very tiny” kittens, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials who worked with a licensed private tracker and verified the lion killed the horse for prey.

“We live in this beautiful area and it’s easy to let our guard down,” said DFW Lt. Kyle Kroll who oversees wildlife management in Lassen, Plumas and central Butte County. “We’re in the middle of amazing mountain lion territory. It’s not necessarily any more dangerous than anywhere else; it’s just good to be aware that this is their habitat,” Kroll noted.

Kroll said lions are highly secretive animals, able to disappear into very little cover, and where there are green belts and good habitat for deer, lions may be attracted to roam and hunt.

“We don’t have an overpopulation of mountain lions in our region, but we do have a healthy population,” Kroll said, explaining that lion attacks upon dogs are fairly rare and horse kills are “very, very rare.”

He added, “We know a lion is working this area. It’s hard to say how long a mountain lion will remain in an area.”

Kroll advised that animals be brought indoors at night, if possible, over the next couple of weeks, and that pets not be allowed to roam free in the area at this time, especially during hours of darkness.

More than half of California is mountain lion habitat. Kroll suggested people visit DFW’s website to become familiar ahead of time with safety precautions in the event of wildlife encounters.

The mare was buried April 18 and while mountain lions typically hunt within a 10-square-mile area, roaming when a food source is no longer available, there are many deer in the area where the predation occurred.

The lion kittens are far too young to make it on their own and trapping all three animals for relocation is highly problematic, according to Kroll.

“Relocation is something that we do [carry out] at times. Our main goal is to prevent further conflict,” the lieutenant said, explaining that capturing, tranquilizing, immobilizing and tagging the lion and her offspring would be difficult.

“In urban areas, we have better success,” Kroll commented. “Rural areas make it (capture and relocation) more difficult. Lions hunt at night and can travel great distances.”

Additionally, relocation might put the animals into another mountain lion’s territory and male lions are known to kill kittens. Starving animals also present a higher risk in terms of coming into contact with humans.

DFW biologists and federal USDA trappers have consulted on the attack and anticipate that removal of the food source will result in the lion moving on from the immediate area.

The department is focusing on public education around the incident and is also reaching out to local agencies to explore posting signage in the Gansner Park and Spanish Creek area.

“Bear encounters may be next,” Kroll noted, too. “They’re waking up and they’re really hungry, so we could start to have human-bear conflicts. It’s good to always be aware of your surroundings.”

Questions may be directed to DFW’s Redding Regional Office at 225-2300. The department also maintains a hotline to report poaching and pollution at (888) 334-CalTIP.

Staying safe in mountain lion country

Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people.

Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare. However, conflicts are increasing as California’s human population expands into mountain lion habitat.

Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.

Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active – dawn, dusk, and at night.

Keep a close watch on small children.

Do not approach a mountain lion.

If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.

If attacked, fight back.

If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.

Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (wildlife.ca.gov/keep-me-wild)

Living in mountain lion country

Don’t feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.

Deer-proof your landscaping by avoiding plants that deer like to eat. For tips, request A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage from DFG offices.

Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.

Don’t leave small children or pets outside unattended.

Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.

Provide sturdy, covered shelters for sheep, goats and other vulnerable animals.

Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active — dawn, dusk and at night.

Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums and other potential mountain lion prey.

Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (wildlife.ca.gov/keep-me-wild)

One thought on “Mountain lion kills horse near Spanish Creek in Quincy

  • Old news. Must be a slow day in the news room.

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