After closing to the public for nearly a week due to multiple mountain lion sightings, Whiting Ranch Park near Irvine reopened again on Monday, Sept. 20. The park closed on Thursday, Sept. 16, after OC Parks indicated that multiple sightings of mountain lions had been reported.
On Twitter, OC Parks indicated that park rangers were investigating the area, but made no other mention of mountain lion activity or additional sightings after reopening the park Monday.
Update: The park has reopened.
— OC Parks (@OCParks) September 20, 2021
Located in Lake Forest just northeast of the Irvine Spectrum and Portola High School, the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park features a network of trails for hiking and outdoor activities. While not directly aligning within the borders of Irvine, several trails within Whiting Ranch Park give hikers — along with animals — access into Irvine.
Earlier this year, Dr. Winston Vickers spoke with Irvine Weekly about the genetic plight of mountain lions in the Santa Ana Mountain range. In May, Vickers was able to fit the male cougar, officially named M294, with a tracking collar. The animal became the first new wild cat to be collared in Orange County in more than two decades.
M294, known locally as El Cobre, was allegedly poached in July.
While the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the death of M294, the agency has yet to release any new data regarding the case.
In January 2020, a mountain lion was killed after it injured a 3-year-old child. The child survived the attack, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife ordered the animal be euthanized, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
A 3-year-old male was attacked by a mountain lion within Whiting Ranch around 4:15 this afternoon. The child is in stable condition at a local hospital. Dept of Fish and Wildlife gave local law enforcement the approval to euthanize the lion due to the public safety threat.
— OCFA PIO (@OCFireAuthority) January 21, 2020