On Tuesday evening, a mountain lion wandered into the city of Mountain View, California. Located in the southern portion of the San Francisco bay area, the outskirts of Mountain View are home to mountain lions, though they are rarely spotted by local residents.
Around 6:30 p.m. reports began coming in to the local police station of a mountain lion near California Street and Rengstroff Avenue. While the vast majority of reported lion sightings turn out to be other animals, one resident took a photo with a cell phone which allowed the police sergeant to confirm it was in fact a mountain lion.
Mountain View Police began searching the area for the cat. They asked neighbors to stay indoors and vacate nearby Rengstroff Park. Around 7:00 the lost lion had wandered into the garage of an apartment complex. Officers shut the parking garage gate and waited for California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers to arrive.
Problems with the first warden's tranquilizer gun and a power outage complicated matters. After a few hours a second wildlife officer was on scene and sedated the lion, who had remained hiding under a van the whole time.
After capturing the drowsy lion, officers noticed he was wearing a tracking collar and is one of the cats being monitored by the UC Santa Cruz Puma Project. Known by researchers as 46M, this young 110-pound male had just left his mother and is in search of his own home range — a chunk of habitat with deer, water, female lions and no other big male cats.
"Unfortunately, instead of finding his way into a nice patch of unoccupied woods, his wanderings took him into Mountain View!" researchers noted this afternoon on their website.
"Imagine his surprise when he probably thought he could push through dispersed human development to get to more forest that was surely on the other side, only to find himself surrounded by cars, buildings, dogs, and people."
Thankfully, 46M was transported from the parking garage back into the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Under a new California law that went into place in January 2014, a mountain lion can only be killed for public safety if it is acting aggressively towards the public. Simply being in the wrong place or becoming agitated when first responders approach is no longer a death sentence for a mountain lion. Non-threatening lions must be relocated back to the wild, or given the time and space to do so on their own.
ABC 7 News' coverage of the Mountain View mountain lion, 46M, on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.