I ran across this today in the paper and thought I would share it. Just be on the lookout up at San Juan Trail.
Last modified Wednesday, May 5, 2004 10:17 PM PDT
Cougar sighted at campground
By: DAVE DOWNEY - Staff Writer
EL CARISO VILLAGE ---- A large, bold mountain lion has been seen at a popular campground on the Riverside-Orange county line four times in two weeks, prompting authorities Wednesday to warn campers, hikers and mountain bikers to take precautions.
"It hasn't been aggressive, but it hasn't been trying to hide, either," said Judy Behrens, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman based in Corona. "He's not shy."
Behrens said authorities believe the cougar to be a male because of its size, estimated from 140 to 160 pounds.
The cougar was seen three times by campers, a camp host and a Forest Service recreation officer in the fading daylight of late afternoon or early evening and once after dark, said Karry Galey, a recreation supervisor for the Cleveland National Forest.
Each sighting was at Blue Jay Campground, near El Cariso Village at an elevation of 3,000 feet. Galey said the last sighting was 9:15 p.m. Saturday near campsite No. 30. The campground has 50 spaces.
Because of the flurry of sightings, Behrens said authorities are asking campers to take measures to ensure their safety.
"If you have children with you, keep those children with you at all times," Behrens said.
It is also advisable to avoid venturing out alone, she said, and to make yourself look larger by raising arms or opening a jacket, if a cougar crosses your path.
The Forest Service's warning extends to mountain bikers and hikers on the 11-mile-long San Juan Trail, which tops out at Blue Jay Campground.
Blue Jay, which has a lush meadow and is shaded by a grove of large oak trees, is proving extra popular this spring because of campground closures in the mountains of San Diego and San Bernardino counties following last fall's firestorm, Behrens said.
"We're not usually a primary destination point," she said.
In the past, Blue Jay campers were mostly "locals" from nearby Riverside County and Orange County communities. Now large numbers are streaming in from far away, Behrens said. And there are many more campers overall.
"We're having as many people come up as we normally do on Memorial Day weekend," Galey said. "Since April 1, we have been full every weekend."
In a more typical spring, Galey said, about 10 of the 50 sites are filled.
The Forest Service's warning came on the same day that Anaheim police warned residents of suburban Anaheim Hills to take precautions after a pair of mountain lions were sighted there Saturday and Tuesday.
Earlier this year, the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve west of Murrieta closed several weeks after a cougar sighting.
Forest Service officials say the growing number of sightings across the region is not surprising because the dozens of lions that roam the Santa Ana Mountains between the Santa Rosa Plateau and Chino Hills are increasingly being squeezed out of their habitat by urban development.
"They're losing it every day, as we speak," Behrens said. "You drive the (Interstate) 15 and all you see is bulldozers chopping up more land for more subdivisions."
Contact staff writer Dave Downey at (909) 676-4315, Ext. 2616, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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