By Mary O’KEEFE
Recently, quite a few mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and bears have visited the Crescenta Valley and La Cañada areas. This is not that unusual for a community at the base of a mountain and national forest, but lately the sightings seem to have increased and for one family, have a tragic effect.
On May 14 at about 10 p.m., La Crescenta resident Rich Toyon let his dog Feege, a 4-year-old pug, out for his “nightly duty” in the fenced backyard.
“He didn’t come in when we called,” Toyon said. “We gave him a few more minutes.”
Toyon waited and then called Feege again, but still no answer. He went to out to his backyard and found the little dog had been killed. His neck was broken and the dog had obviously been attacked by some type of animal.
Toyon is an experienced outdoorsman and has seen many animal attacks, including mountain lion.
“This [looked like] a mountain lion,” Toyon said.
He added that mountain lions normally tend not to eat their prey right away but instead will hang around the area. Toyon contacted the sheriff’s station, but there was not much of a response, he said.
Another resident contacted CVW to share his concern over the fact that the sheriff’s station had not used a reverse 911 to warn neighbors of the attack.
“We don’t do a reverse 911 unless someone sees a mountain lion,” said Lt. Angela Sheppard, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Sheppard added that the reverse phone calls are used if there is an immediate danger. If the resident did not see the mountain lion, it cannot be confirmed.
Toyon did not see the mountain lion but is certain that was what killed his dog.
“When we get a call, we [respond],” Sheppard said.
The sheriff’s department will respond and search the area for the animal. If there is an immediate danger, a reverse 911 call is made and the sheriff’s deputies will deal with the animal. However, in most situations, the animal is found and the Dept. of Fish and Game is contacted, Sheppard said.
She added that mountain lions are not as common as bobcats in the area.
A mountain lion was found a few weeks ago lounging in the backyard of a home in the 3300 blocks of Thelma Street and Fairmount Avenue. Glendale police and fire responded as did Fish and Game.
Fish and Game tranquilized the mountain lion, tagged the animal and located it back into Angeles National Forest.
Although bears and mountain lion sightings may seem like they are on the increase, they aren’t, according to Fish and Game.
“With social media, when someone sees a bear they Twitter it out and the
He added that ever since Meatball, the Crescenta Valley bear that made repeated trips to the area, the social media activity has increased. The most recent was the bear in La Cañada Flintridge that jumped over a fence and surprised residents as they were relaxing by the pool.
“It is not a bear [or mountain lion] problem, it is a people problem,” he said.
May is an active month for both bears and mountain lions, Hughan said.
“You can almost set your calendar by it,” he added.
The animals that normally live in the mountains come into neighborhoods because of food and water.
“It is 100% why they are here. Easy meals,” he said.
Hughan wants to remind residents to put what scraps of food they can through a garbage disposal so it is not in outdoor cans.
“Keep your barbecues clean. Take out your trash on the morning of [garbage pick up],” he said. “And clean your fruit trees, especially avocado trees.”
He did admit that mountain lions in the area are unusual, and they are unpredictable.
“Bears are really the scaredy cats of the forest,” he joked.
A mountain lion, though, will go after a small animal, like a dog.
“If it is a very small dog, [residents] should keep the dog’s outside exposure [alone to a minimum]. Keep dog, [cat] food inside, even a water bowl,” he said.
If residents come face to face with a bear or mountain lion, they need to “act big,” Hughan said.
“Raise your arms, take your jacket off and [raise it up] – anything to appear big,” he said.
In the past 145 years, since Fish and Game began keeping records, there have only been six mountain lion attacks on people.
“The last three have been in Southern California,” he said.
For coyotes, the advice is the same. If a person comes face to face, act large and make noise. And to keep them away, do not have any food out.
“Every neighborhood needs to be mindful not to leave food out,” he added. Avocados are a favorite food of coyotes.
For Toyon, who has a six-foot fence around his backyard, the precautions were taken but the cat still found his/her way into his yard.He lives near Los Olivos Lane and Briggs Avenue. Toyon’s concern is his proximity to schools.
Hughan added it is important to keep reminding people to be aware of the precautions that need to be taken when living with wildlife.
Toyon wanted to share the story of his lost dog so the community is reminded of the area they live in. Wildlife is not confined to the Angeles National Forest, and families, including children, need to know that mountain lions are in the area.