On October 19th, a San Jose family, living in a subdivision near Alum Rock Park, awoke to a find a piece of California's wildlife heritage—a mountain lion kitten—hiding in their backyard.
For several of the previous nights, neighborhood dogs had been upset and barking at some kind of disturbance, but no one could figure out what was setting them off. When their own dogs started a new row Saturday morning the family decided to investigate. Their search uncovered a small, frail looking mountain lion kitten hiding in their backyard and too weak to escape over a three-foot tall retaining wall.
The family corralled the lion kitten with a folding dog pen fence and contacted the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Responding California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens took the kitten to the Wildlife Center for evaluation.
The lion kitten, estimated at 3-months old, was found to be severely dehydrated, anemic, and emaciated. After a few days care, the rescued kitten was transferred to CDFW's Wildlife Investigation Laboratory, near Sacramento.
It's been surmised that this is the same mountain lion kitten, reportedly spotted in several different nearby locations since October 9th.
While this particular case appears to be extraordinary, in normal situations, mountain lion kittens are often left on their own while their mother hunts for food. So it shouldn't be automatically assumed that lion kittens have been abandoned, and in need of rescue just because their mother is not in sight.
In California, mountain lions are classified as a "specially protected" species and under state law, may not be taken, possessed or transported without authorization from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The eventual fate of this young lion is not known at this time. The recent passage of Senate Bill 132 might allow for its rehabilitation and eventual release back into the wild once it is older and can fend for its self.