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Mountain lions terrorize California neighborhood, concerns about pet safety grow

A Southern California community is reporting an increase in cougar sightings, raising concerns for their pets.

The recent sightings of cougar cubs in Thousand Oaks come after a young man was killed in a mountain lion attack further north in El Dorado County in March.

Speaking to local news station KTLA, residents said the mountain lion cub was hungry and had apparently been roaming around their front yards looking for food. Doorbell camera footage shows a cat being chased.

“It wasn't full size, so we had to look at it again and zoom in and stuff, and then we realized, 'Oh my God, it's a mountain lion cub,'” Mark McGee told the outlet.

Mountain lions are common in the Santa Monica Mountains, near Thousand Oaks in southern California.

National Park Service

Local residents expressed certain safety concerns.

Further north, a 21-year-old man died in an attack in Georgetown a few weeks earlier in March. It was the first fatal mountain lion case in California in 20 years.

His 18-year-old brother called emergency services when the attack began, and deputies chased the animal away with a firearm. However, it was too late to save the man.

After the incident, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife stated that encounters with humans were rare but could occur.

“First and foremost, our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones affected by this tragic incident. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said at the time.

The last reported non-fatal attack in the Santa Monica Mountains occurred in August 2021 and involved a 5-year-old boy.

Residents of Thousand Oaks said they had never heard of any cougar sightings until a few years ago.

“We've been here since 1987,” Esther O'Connor also told KTLA. “Basically, the only wildlife we ​​saw until a few years ago were birds, squirrels and raccoons, but never a mountain lion.”

Newsweek has reached out to the National Parks Service for further comment on animal movements in and around the Santa Monica Mountains.

On its website, the NPS states that the park is home to a “stable” population of mountain lions and that Los Angeles is one of only two megacities in the world, along with Mumbai, India, that have a population of big cats.

It is estimated that there are between 10 and 15 adult animals living in the park at any one time; the number of young animals is unknown.

The City of Thousand Oaks advises residents not to approach or run away from a lion. Instead, they are asked to stop, face the animal, and make eye contact if possible while making themselves as large as possible and giving the lions room to escape or flee.

Newsweek has reached out to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for further comment.