Residents Warned After Mountain Lion Kills Small Dog in Simi Valley Neighborhood

on Dec5
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A small dog was killed in a Simi Valley neighborhood, possibly by a mountain lion that several neighbors reported seeing in the area, police said Thursday. 

Police and agents with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to the neighborhood Wednesday. Officers remained in the area early Thursday, searching for the big cat in the community about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

In a public safety alert for residents, police said there have been multiple reports of a mountain lion in the Evening Sky area and asked people to keep pets indoors.

The first reports were received Wednesday around midday in the Pawnee Court and Seneca Place area in northeast Simi Valley. Police received two reports of the animal attacking dogs.

Officers who responded overnight saw the mountain lion in the backyard of a home with a dead dog. The owner suffered a minor cut on her finger after she tried to protect her pet from the big cat.

“She obviously cared about her dog very much as all dog owners do,” said Sgt. Keith Eisenhower. “She tried to fend the animal off by punching it, elbowing it and tried to pry its jaws open.”

The homeowner’s brother said the miniature Schnauzer woke her up around 2 a.m.

“She figured it had to go to the bathroom and opened the door,” said the brother, identified only as Brian. “I think she went out first, and she saw the mountain lion and her dog charged under her legs toward the mountain lion, and the mountain lion snapped it up.

“She jumped on the mountain lion and tried to pry its jaws open to save her dog because she loves her dog so much.”

Authorities, including police and officers with Ventura County Animal Control, fanned out in the neighborhood but did not find the animal.

The mountain lion was wearing a tracking collar, the Ventura County Star reported. The devices are used by the National Park Service as part of the agency’s studies of mountain lions in Southern California.

In June 2018, a litter of four mountain lion kittens was found in the Simi Hills, a small area of habitat wedged between the larger Santa Monica and Santa Susana mountain ranges. The kittens are all female and are now known as P-66, P-67, P-68 and P-69.

The mother of the kittens is P-62, who researchers have been tracking since January. She was recaptured in July and fitted with a new GPS collar.

The mountain lion population is high in California, relative to other parts of the United States. Density estimates vary, but the figure might be as high as 10 lions per 100 square miles. By that estimate, the population is somewhere between 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions statewide.

But it’s difficult to say whether that population is increasing or decreasing without an ongoing statewide study.

One thing is certain — mountain lions go where they can find food, primarily deer. That sometimes brings them into urban areas, like Simi Valley, but it should be noted that a person is 1,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There have been only 16 verified mountain lion attacks in California since 1890, six of which were fatal, according to the agency.

The department receives hundreds of reports each year about mountain lions killing pets and livestock.

Mountain lions are a specially protected species in California under the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990, approved as Prop 117 by California voters. The classification has nothing to do with mountain lion numbers in California, but its passage made it illegal to hunt the big cats.

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