By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A juvenile mountain lion was released back into the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County Thursday by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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The 1-year-old sub-adult male lion arrived at the San Diego Human Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center July 13 after being captured by the CDFW in coordination with Mission Viejo Animal Services. Prior to his capture, there had been repeated reports of sightings.

The Project Wildlife veterinary team performed a full exam under sedation that included lab work, X-rays and a dental exam. He was treated for parasites, given fluids and monitored by the care team for two weeks before release to ensure he could survive on his own.

“Mountain lions are in many communities in Southern California, but it is important to remember they need to remain wild at heart and not get comfortable around people — for everyone’s safety,” Christine Barton, director of operations and wildlife rehabilitation at the SDHS Ramona Campus, said in a release. “They are special predators and we are proud to have an expert team trusted by the state of California in this pilot program to care for the species here at the Ramona Wildlife Center.”

Each year, SDHS said it treats nearly 13,000 injured, orphaned and sick wild animals. The Ramona Campus, announced in 2020, specializes in caring for native apex predators and birds of prey.

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