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Mountain Lion Killed by Deputy in Rancho Cucamonga Backyard Due to ‘Threat to Public Safety’

One of two mountain lions spotted in a residential area of Rancho Cucamonga was killed by a sheriff’s deputy over the weekend  in a backyard nearly 2 miles from the foothills that mark the wild animals’ typical habitat.

A mountain lion is shown in a file photo. (Credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife/flickr via Creative Commons)

A mountain lion is shown in a file photo. (Credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife/flickr via Creative Commons)

After a caller reported seeing two mountain lions jumping between yards, deputies responded to the 8800 block of Somerset Drive (map) just before 7 a.m. Saturday. They saw a mountain lion scale a fence and “bound through” several yards.

Deputies requested help from local animal control officers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to a news release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

While deputies searched the neighborhood, a homeowner in the 6300 block of Moonstone Avenue (map) reported seeing a mountain lion in his or her backyard.

The puma was spotted in a backyard in 6300 block of Moonstone Avenue, shown. (Credit: Google Maps)

The puma was spotted in a backyard in 6300 block of Moonstone Avenue, shown. (Credit: Google Maps)

Deputies and animal control officers arrived and “maintained a respectful and nonthreatening distance to observe and assess the animal,” the release stated.

Then, about 8:20 a.m., a deputy “humanely shot” the puma, which died immediately.

The animal was killed based on “imminent threat to public safety,” the department stated in the news release.

The Sheriff’s Department provided a link to a Google map of the location where the animal was killed, noting the proximity “residential dwellings, schools, churches, parks and major thoroughfares.” The location is a little less than 2 miles south of the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman for the Southern California region could not immediately be reached for more information on the Rancho Cucamonga mountain lion shooting, but the department’s guidelines state that an animal may be considered a threat if there is a “a likelihood of human injury based on the totality of the circumstances,” including proximity to schools, playgrounds and other public gathering places.

Animals considered a public safety threat must be killed and cannot be relocated, according to the state’s FAQ about mountain lions. Fewer than 3 percent of reported mountain lion sightings amount to public safety threats each year, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Sheriff’s Department, which operates the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department, on Sunday warned area residents about the recent mountain lion sightings.

A flyer about the recent puma sightings noted that a 100-pound pet German shepherd was killed by a mountain lion, an incident that occurred in March in neighboring Fontana.

“Although mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, conflicts are increasing due to the recent water shortage, and increased residential developments in the foothills areas,” the flyer stated.

Residents were urged not to hike, bike or jog alone, and to avoid activities at dawn and dusk. Other measures included keeping a close watch on small children and pets, and not approaching any mountain lion.

A necropsy was set to be conducted on the mountain lion shot Saturday.

A Rancho Cucamonga resident had started a petition on change.org, saying the shooting used “excessive force” against the animal.

State records indicate that between 1986 and 2013, 15 mountain lion attacks have occurred throughout California, including three fatal encounters.

Four fatalities around the turn of the 20th century were attributed to mountain lion attacks, according to the state.

Within the last year, wildlife officials were investigating whether a homeless man had been attacked by a mountain lion after he sought treatment for wounds sustained in Perris in February.

In March, authorities killed a mountain lion that stalked a 5-year-old boy on a walk with his mother and sister in an Orange County park where a mountain biker was killed by a puma a decade earlier.

Mountain lions prey on deer and may be present wherever there are deer, according to the state. About half of California is mountain lion habitat.

KTLA’s Tracy Bloom contributed to this article.

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