Mountain lion kills 27 lambs at Northern California ranch

Mountain lions are common in Lake County and there is a lion sighting just about every month. Last week a farmer in Lower Lake reported 27 lambs killed by a mountain lion. The owner notified the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), which sent a representative to the farm. He told the owners that mountain lions are completely protected and there was nothing he could do.

In a way the DFW was correct, but not completely. While the law states a lion can’t be relocated, it can be destroyed if it attacks livestock or a human. This particular lion is still on the farm and will undoubtedly attack more sheep. They also like to frequent backyards looking for cats and dogs.

A mountain lion is extremely strong and has been known to take down a full-grown elk weighing more than 750 pounds. An adult lion weighs up to 175 pounds and has an extremely strong bite. Sheep are one of its favorite victims.

Years ago local farmers kept the lion population in check, however the animal rights crowd was able to get legislation passed that completely protected the lion.

Many people are wondering why a lion would kill 27 sheep and not eat them. The lion more that likely killed the sheep because they were available. In the wild, the lion would have probably returned to feed on them.

With 2,000 to 4,000 lions, California has more mountain lions than any other state. A mountain lion will kill a deer a week for food. The reason the DFW won’t relocate a troublesome lion is because if relocated it will fight with the resident lions. They also travel long distances. It is not unusual for a lion to travel 50 miles in a day.

A few years ago a couple were inside their home along Clear Lake and left the patio door open. An adult mountain lion wandered into the home, The couple retreated to their bathroom and locked the door. The lion ransacked the house for nearly an hour before retreating out the open door.

The woman whose 27 lambs were killed also contacted a federal trapper but was told there wasn’t anything he could do.

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Mountain lions an extremely shy animal and most people have never seen one. Of all my years wandering around the woods I have only seen four. A few year ago my neighbor saw a large mountain lion running down her yard chasing a squirrel. It chased the squirrel up a tree and grabbed it. The lion completely ignored the woman.

Last year a rancher near Willits killed a mountain lion that was preying on his cattle. He was arrested, jailed and fined more than $1,000.

The big question is what to do if you own sheep or cattle and a mountain lion shows up? There are a couple of federal trappers who can assist you. They an be reached through the local agriculture office in Lakeport or Ukiah.

When traveling in the woods use extra care. If you spot a lion don’t run as that will excite it and you could be attacked. If you are attacked, fight back. Actually, with the modern laws protecting the lions nowadays there is little you can do.



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