MONROVIA (CNS) - A female mountain lion who was rescued in Monrovia last month after being injured -- presumably in the Bobcat Fire -- has been returned to the wild.
The mountain lion was treated for burn injuries to all four of her paw pads before being released in the Angeles National Forest, according to Korinna Domingo, the founder/director of the Cougar Conservancy.
The release last Friday marked the first time the California Department of Fish and Wildlife had rescued, rehabilitated and released a mountain lion back into the wild in California, according to Domingo, who called it an “historic moment.''
“I just had an overwhelming sense of `We did this,''' Domingo said.
She noted that her group was notified about the mountain lion by a resident who spotted her licking her paws that were later determined to be burned and bleeding, and that the ailing mountain lion likely would have starved to death without intervention.
Domingo said people from throughout the world reached out after hearing about the injured mountain lion, who was rescued Sept. 22 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and subsequently treated in Sacramento by wildlife veterinarians from the UC Davis School of Medicine and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The mountain lion gained 19 pounds on a diet of deer, rabbit and beef while being treated for “serious burns'' to all four of her paws, and was released about 15 to 20 miles from Monrovia so she wasn't put back in an area that had been damaged by the fire, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The satellite portion of her collar -- which had been tested before her release -- is not working, but the collar sends out radio signals that may help investigators to locate her, according to the spokesman.
In a video posted by the Cougar Conservancy on YouTube that shows the release, Dr. Deana Clifford with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said the mountain lion had proven she could live in the wild and that “we knew that she could survive once we put her back.''
“We didn't have to teach her how to be a lion. She already has done that very successfully for, we think, about seven years,'' Clifford said in the video. “She's a wild creature and the goal is not for her to be in that cage. It's to be back out here and that is really gratifying.''
Johanna Turner, an advisory committee member of the Cougar Conservancy, said the mountain lion is “an ambassador'' who represents the challenges facing the species.
Photo: The Cougar Conservancy’s Conflict Task Force