Multiple mountain lion sightings prompt temporary closure of Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in O.C.

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This Jan. 20, 2020 file photo shows a mountain lion carrying a backpack in Whiting Ranch. (Orange County Sheriff's Department)

This Jan. 20, 2020 file photo shows a mountain lion carrying a backpack in Whiting Ranch. (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park was temporarily closed Thursday until further notice due to multiple mountain lion sightings, officials announced.

The park was closed “out of an abundance of caution” after repeated sightings of multiple mountain lions by visitors and staff raised public safety concerns, Orange County Parks authorities said in an alert.

The park, along Glenn Ranch Road in Lake Forest, is often the site of mountain lion activity.

Just this past February, the park was closed when a family noticed that a mountain lion was following a child.

Orange County park officials told visitors to be alert, travel in groups, make noise while hiking to alert lions and hike during daytime hours when the animals are less active.

If encountering a mountain lion, visitors are advised not to run. Instead, they should hold their ground, wave their hands and shout.

If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones at it, do all you can to appear larger and pick up small children and place them on your shoulders if possible, O.C. Parks advised.

Mountain lion attacks remain incredibly rare in California, and there have been three reported at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, according to state records.

The most recent happened in January last year, when a mountain lion attacked and injured a 3-year-old boy who suffered “severe wounds” to the neck at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. Authorities ended up evacuating the park as they sought the lion, which was later found and killed.

The other two mountain lion attacks reported at the park both happened in January 2004, according to state records.

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