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Mountain Lion May Be Culprit in Fatal Attack on Pet Goats in Santa Barbara

Residents in the neighborhood near Outer State Street are keeping a wary watch after the animals were killed last week

Residents of a Santa Barbara neighborhood off Outer State Street are keeping a worried watch for a large predator — possibly a mountain lion — that killed two pet goats last week.

Roxanne Reginato, who has lived in the 200 block of North La Cumbre Road — where the attack occurred — since she was a child, said she discovered the two pygmy goats dead last Wednesday, and both had large puncture wounds on their necks.

She spoke with Noozhawk at her home Monday afternoon, and shared pictures of the pygmy goats — Briggs and Stratton — that had lived on the property with her family until they were killed last week.

"These were our pets," she said, adding that she could have put the goats away more securely if she had known a large predator was in the area.

State Fish and Wildlife officials said Monday that it was not conclusive whether a mountain lion or another predator had attacked the animals, but they have issued Reginato a depredation permit to kill a mountain lion if one is seen on her property.

The attack occurred just two blocks from State Street on a parcel that backs up to Calvary Cemetery.

It's in close vicinity to several schools, which has some neighbors concerned and puzzled as to why Fish and Wildlife officials have not been more public about the incident.

Reginato noted that bobcats and coyotes aren't unusual in the area, but that a mountain lion is another story.

She expressed dismay that more outreach hadn't been done by the agencies that contacted her after the attack, and has put her own sign out by the roadside telling people to protect their children and pets from a mountain lion.

The night Briggs and Stratton were killed was windy, she recalled. 

The bodies of the goats had not been eaten on by whatever attacked them, and Reginato said she thinks that's because the attack occurred near some palms on the property, which had shed some branches, possibly scaring the predator away as they fell to the ground.

These two goats — named Briggs and Stratton — were found dead last week in a Santa Barbara backyard, possibly killed by a mountain lion. (Roxanne Reginato courtesy photo)

Her daughter heard some sounds at 9:30 the night before, Reginato said, but thought it was cats fighting and dismissed it.

Reginato found her goats dead the next morning when she went out to feed them. Both had what she described as "large puncture wounds" in the neck area.

Something had scaled a 6-foot fence that is topped with wire, and had gotten into the goats' cages, which did not have a cover. 

There are many culverts in the area, and Reginato said she believes that's how the culprit made its way into the neighborhood from the mountains.

Reginato said Santa Barbara City Animal Control officers told her it was a mountain lion attack, and she also confirmed she been given a depredation license from Fish and Wildlife that allows her permission to kill a mountain lion if one is seen on her property.

"A mountain lion this close to State Street is not cool," she said. 

There's a preschool that operates close by, as well as Hope School, Monte Vista Elementary, La Colina Junior High and Bishop Garcia Diego High School within the neighborhood.

"You're just concerned for the little kids," she said.

Reginato also owns miniature horses on the property, but has moved them since the incident, and said she'd like animal control as well as Fish and Wildlife to put out more information. 

Officer Anthony Nunez of Santa Barbara City Animal Control said Monday he could not confirm that the attack was from a mountain lion, but "that was a possibility."

Neighbor Dwight Dumpert, who lives several streets over from Reginato on Primavera Lane, said he and his neighbors were concerned about the situation. He found out about it on Saturday, when he was walking on La Cumbre Road and saw Reginato's sign in front of the home.

Dumpert, who has children who live at home, only found out about the incident because of the sign, and contacted Hope School, where they attend, to let staff know.

"I know we're in a urban/wildland interface, and we live with that all the time," he said, adding that he and his neighbors see and hear coyotes and bobcats often in the area. "But a mountain lion causes concern. It seems to me that animal control should put something on their website letting people know about it.

"It's getting darker earlier and kids are out of school early."

Christine Thompson, a biologist for Fish and Wildlife, said she received a call from a warden who was out on the site last week, but was not able to examine the goats in person because they had already been disposed of by animal control.

"All we had were pictures and it was inconclusive," she said. "It may or may not have been a mountain lion."

Thompson said the animals did display puncture wounds on their necks, and that neither had been eaten, which she said was "uncharacteristic" for a mountain lion.

A mountain lion sighting in the city limits is "not super unusual," she said, adding that the animals will often use the creek beds as travel corridors.

This would not be the first time a mountain lion has found its way into a residential area in city limits. In January, a cougar was spotted in the backyard of a home backing up to the Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Club, and was captured and released into the wild.

"Mountain lions are very secretive," she said, adding that no one had spotted one in this case.

A male mountain lion can have a territory up to 50 square miles, and because of this year's lack of rainfall, more wildlife is coming out of the hills in search of food and water, she said. 

When asked why the public wasn't notified, Thompson said it was because it wasn't a confirmed mountain lion, and "because it was a property damage incident, we handled it as such."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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