Mountain lion captured in Southern California suburb

Authorities say a mountain lion captured in a Southern California suburb isn't the big cat that killed a resident's dog last week

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- A mountain lion was captured Thursday in a Southern California neighborhood but officials said it wasn't the big cat that killed a resident's dog and injured another pet last week in the same suburb.

Police and wildlife officers responded around dawn to Simi Valley, which is about 40 miles (64.37 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, where people had reported seeing a cougar prowling near foothill properties.

The male lion was tranquilized and outfitted with a tracking collar that scientists will use to study the animal as part of an ongoing research project on the big cats, National Park Service spokeswoman Ana Beatriz Cholo said.

The lion, dubbed P-79, will be released back into the mountains northwest of Los Angeles, she said.

Mountain lions are an iconic native species in the region but face increasing problems as development, roads and highways fragment their habitat.

The cougar that that killed a miniature Schnauzer on Dec. 5 was a female already outfitted with a tracking collar, officials said. The dog's owner told police she jumped on the mountain lion’s back and tried to pry open its mouth to free the family pet but the lion became aggressive toward her and she retreated into her home.

Police officers who responded before dawn saw the mountain lion as it appeared to eat the dog in the backyard.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife warden arrived and planned to fire a bean-bag shotgun round at the big cat but it fled.

Several hours earlier, another resident reported the cougar attacked his dog as he was walking it near his home. That dog survived and was treated by a veterinarian.