Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this



February 6, 2010 (Alpine) – Shrinking habitat in San Diego’s backcountry has led to inevitable clashes between mountain lions, humans and domesticated animals. But unlike some predatory animals, mountain lions can't be repatriated after capture due to their large, exclusive territory (up to 100 square miles), drastically reduced amount of remote habitat, and the growing number of lions being captured.

With few places to take captured cougars, authorities often must kill these carnivores whose ranges conflict with people. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between 100 and 135 mountain lions are killed in California each year.


Lions, Tigers & Bears, a big cat rescue facility in Alpine, wants to provide authorities an alternative to killing these animals and also provide the organization’s members with opportunities to observe the animals close-up and learn safe actions should they encounter a big cat in the wild.

The facility is currently home to one young mountain lion, Conrad, who was captured by State Fish & Game officers near an elementary school. The Department contacted Lions Tigers & Bears which, through donations, was able to design and construct a habitat for Conrad.


Now Lions, Tigers & Bears has plans to create a far more extensive Conservation & Education Station capable of housing up to four mountain lions, with ample exercise room for all.


The planned station will include a 4,300-square-foot sleeping area with a concrete pad, a large alley way for long walks and runs and 12-foot fence with the top enclosed forthe safety of both animals and people. Another 700 square feet of enclosed access/egress pathways and horse-trailer access is an integral part of the enclosure. A water feature will provide cats with recreation and hydration and an irrigation system will feed the water feature and bring in water for plants, cleaning and fire suppression.


The goals of the Conservation & Education Station and the methods to achieve them are:

Goal 1: To save three to four wild mountain lions from death over the next five years and board them in a safe, no-kill conservation facility.

Goal 2: To educate the public about big cats and other wildlife native to the California's chaparral ecosystem. The facility will also educate its 12,000 members on how to co-exist with mountain lions. Through camps, classes, programs and other programs, Lions Tigers & Bears seeks to inform people on topics such as:

-- The relative rarity of mountain lion attacks (only 21 persons in all of North America have been killed by mountain lions since 1890, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation).

-- The important role the mountain lion serves in keeping in check the species they prey on, principally deer but also wild hogs, raccoons, rabbits, porcupines, and birds.

-- How to protect pets and livestock.

-- What to do in the event you encounter a mountain lion.

To complete the initial phase of Conservation & Education Station, Lions Tigers & Bears will need to raise $99,000. The complete Conservation & Education Station will cost $250,000. Donations may be made at

For questions, call (619)659-8078.

Error message

Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.