Defensive Mountain Lion Shooting by Sheriff’s Deputy with AR15 Rifle

Defensive Mountain Lion Shooting by Sheriff's Deputy with AR15 Rifle
Defensive Mountain Lion Shooting by Sheriff’s Deputy with AR15 Rifle

U.S.A.-( In the afternoon of 11 January 2021, a family with two small children and two small dogs was walking along the El Dorado bike trail. They were just outside of Placerville, California, on the east side. The trail there is paved. The weather was very good for walking, the sky was clear and the temperature was about 55 degrees F, with a light breeze. The two small children were in a stroller.

The couple noticed a mountain lion behind them on the trail. They shouted at the lion. It continued to follow them for several minutes. The family called 911. A veteran deputy from the El Dorado Sheriff’s department made good time reaching their location. It was seven minutes from the 911 call to his arrival on the scene, about 200 yards east of where the El Dorado trail crosses the Smith Flat School Road, not far outside the city limits.

El Dorado Sheriff’s department requires every patrol vehicle to have a Remington 870 shotgun and a dedicated less-lethal beanbag shotgun in the vehicle. If patrol officers take and pass a rifle course, they may be issued a Colt AR15 style rifle in .223 caliber. The issue ammunition is a 55 grain Hornaday soft tip TAP. Almost all of the patrol deputies have rifles; most of them have purchased their own optical sights to put on the rifles, which are issued with iron sights as standard.

When the deputy arrived at the young family’s location, he exited the vehicle with a Colt AR15 style rifle in .223 caliber.

The mountain lion was not deterred, even after the deputy arrived. The deputy tried shouting at the animal. It stopped pacing back and forth and started advancing toward the deputy.

The deputy fired a warning round in front of the big cat. It continued to advance.

The deputy fired at the front of the cat, below the head. At the shot, the cat started charging the deputy. The first shot was from 25-30 yards out.

The deputy continued to fire, hitting the cat three or four times out of four or five shots.  The last shot was into the side of the cat as it turned. It dropped to the ground about 10 yards from the deputy.

California Fish and Wildlife took possession of the cat from the Sheriff’s Office. F&W will have a necropsy of the cat performed to see if it had rabies or any other problems. The mountain lion was a full-grown, adult female.

California banned the hunting of mountain lions with Proposition 117 in 1990.

Mountain lions may be killed in self-defense, or depredation permits can be obtained to kill lions that are killing livestock.  In 2016, 218 depredation permits were issued and 120 problem mountain lions were killed, according to

When mountain lions were routinely hunted with dogs, it was common for even a small dog to tree a mountain lion.

Today, thirty years after regular lion hunting was banned in California, mountain lions routinely kill and eat pet dogs.

In the comments at the Eldorado Sherrif’s Office Facebook page, several commenters revealed they had close encounters with mountain lions. From the comments:

C. Collins: My kids were also followed about six months ago in this same area. Called the sheriff’s and they did nothing. Had to wait for 3 weeks till animals control to call back. Unfortunately something bad has to happen before action.

T. Racicot: We hike all the time and everywhere, but never without at the very least pepper spray and a knife or two. When we go deeper into the mountains we always bring a side arm. We got stalked once and it is an eerie scary feeling even when you are armed.

C. O’Hara: I’m glad no one was hurt. This is not typical lion behavior (although once I had one on the roof of my house staring down at me at 5 am!). They normally stay hidden or run off.

J. Ferguson: I was followed by a cat while hiking back to my car after a day of prospecting a few years ago. I walked backwards away from it and made sure to make lots of sound while waving my shovel. I think it got bored of watching a lunatic so it walked away into the forest. I also had a gun on me, luckily I did not need to use it.

Animal populations must be managed by humans, or they fluctuate wildly. There is no inherent “balance” in nature. Predator populations increase until they run out of food or habitat.

Human occupied areas offer plenty of food for predators in the form of garbage, garages, pet food, pets, and if pressed, people themselves.

The most effective, humane, and efficient way to manage predator populations is with regulated hunting. Without management of large predator populations, they increase until humans are put at risk.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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California is a prime example of emotion driven public policy. Nowhere is this more clear than in their rejection of the North American Model for Wildlife Management. I know this because I still go to CA on occasion to teach hunter ed and work on habitat projects. No state in my experience is more resistant to science based habitat management than CA. The mountain lion protection measures in place there are a prime example. These measures have no foundation in science. They are emotionally driven propositions and measures submitted to the legislature and funded by ‘environmental’ groups to prevent science… Read more »


I confess, I would not want to have to use pepper spray and knives, or call the police, if I were being stalked or attacked by a mountain lion. This is one reason I try to stay well away from California in recent decades.


More and more of them are losing the fear of humans. These encounters will increase. Going into the woods? Pack a gun.


Science and data proves out that these predators must be controlled because of the Abundance of non-natural food sources around urban areas. Oh but please we must follow the science even a a masked liberal realizes this. Right!


California ! … An “assault rifle” ! … “Warning Shot !” … “Killing a ‘wild creature of nature’ which HAD NOT harmed anyone or thing ?” … “There shouldn’t be a ‘paved path’ where the wildlife live !” … How many rounds did the Deputy’s rifle magazine hold ? How many did he fire ? … Reads as if the Deputy fired seven or more round – Why ? Obviously, because “he could”; we all know he only needed “one bullet”. The “parents” should be arrested for “child abuse” and “stupidity in public”, as well as “negligence” for taking underage… Read more »


@Sisu – Thought you were being sarcastic until I reached the last sentence. So true.

Throughout the article I kept thinking it is a shame that it is illegal to safely hike in California.


I was being sarcastic. It just amazes me the ignorance …


Absolutely. The enforced ignorance is reaching the point where it really is child abuse to take a child to CA. So sad that such a tongue-in-cheek comment is reality.

It’s been a long slow decline, very glad I left before it got so bad.


Last time I was in California was in the first half of the ’60s. It was getting a bit weird even then. Won’t be going back.


. . . .And the carbon being dumped into the environment from the burning powder! . . . . . AND the LEAD being scattered all over the environment! OH, MYYYYY!!!!!


Given the Tueller-drill premise that within 20 feet a human attacker is likely to beat someone attempting to draw a pistol – I find it mildly impressive that this deputy got off 4-5 shots on target while the lion charged from ~30 yards – even dropping the lion 10 yards from himself. I don’t imagine he paused to evaluate effect he was having – and good thing as the lion made it two thirds of the way to him. Further proof that if something demands to be shot, it is best to take multiple shots as rapidly as possible while… Read more »

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Perhaps it was just tired of having to wear a Covid mask all the time as ordered by Newsom.


Perfect example as to why you NEVER fire a warning shot…At any Attacker or Potential Threat.


@Darkman – Sure you fire a warning shot. Need to fire in a safe direction with an appropriate backstop to reduce risk of a dangerous stray round.
The safest backstop is generally your attackers chest.
If they have not responded within a suitable time frame, such as 100ms, you may begin firing for effect.

Deplorable Bill

Yup, a cat acting like that is trouble and you are going to have to deal with it. Twenty five years ago we had one that was jumping up on horses and clawing them bad. Most of the time when a cat like this goes after people the cops are only there for clean up detail. Glad the cop showed up prepared. Being unarmed is just asking for trouble. Everyone has the RIGHT of self defense and the RIGHT to keep and bear arms according to SCRIPTURE and our constitution. There is another obvious lesson here. The reason the AR-15… Read more »


Oh no, they shot that poor mountain lion and killed it when all it was doing was protecting it’s territory that man has so rudely encroached on said the sierra clubber. That is one of the reasons they quit hunting mountain lions in kommiefornia.


Just today, Oklahoma news stations are reporting that we’ve had a record number of mountain lion sightings in the state. A few years ago, one darted in front of my car, just 8 blocks from my home in one of OK’s largest cities. A cub also studied me for 10 minutes while I sat in my treestand 15 feet off the ground while deer hunting (I wasn’t worried about the cub; I was concerned about his mother showing up). Later I read that the cougars can jump 18 feet vertically from a sitting position. Now when my sons and I… Read more »


Lol and the last part of your comment. I know they can get pretty big. I know this sound crazy but I was heading up HWY 50 just above Pollock PInes, in kommiefornia, and it was dark early in the morning. A big cat ran across the road and I saw him flash in front of my headlights for a split second. He landed in front of the truck and literally jumped over the next lane and over the guardrail in one leap into the forest. From head to tail my wife and I both confirmed that he was as… Read more »


Cats are going too offensive and too dangerous. One of our staff members at krootez got in trouble by coming face to face with a mountain lion a about year and a half ago. Thanks God everything turned out ok for him and his kid.