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Mountain lion sighting near Mission Viejo school prompts lockdown

A 2014 photo of P-22. (Screenshot/Twitter)

A mountain lion sighting prompted a lockdown at Newhart Middle School in Mission Viejo on Thursday, December 15, sheriff’s officials said.

After the animal was spotted near the campus in the early morning, the school went into lockdown and authorities established a perimeter in the area, according to Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Mike Woodruff.

A helicopter was also dispatched to search for the mountain lion, but the animal was not located as of Thursday afternoon, he said.

Three independent sightings of the mountain lion were reported to authorities, Woodruff added.

“Students were moved indoors. The shelter-in-place has been lifted as communication with the sheriff’s department indicates that the lion is no longer in the area of the school,” Capistrano Unified School District spokesperson Patricia Effenberger said.

Mission Viejo Animal Services also assisted patrols around La Paz Road and Arbolitos, according to a Facebook post from the city.

Mountain lion attacks on humans are uncommon, according to the California Department of Fire and Wildlife.

Still, in the event of a mountain lion sighting, the department recommends facing the animal, making noise, and trying to look bigger, according to its website. Crouching or turning your back to the animal is potentially dangerous.


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