Yesterday, in a sign of karmic fate, San Mateo played host to a 15 hour-long game of hide-and-go-seek between the San Mateo Police Department and a young, dispersing mountain lion.
The male lion, weighing approximately 60 to 80 lbs. was first spotted by San Mateo residents around 4:30 a.m. near the corner of Avila Road and South El Camino Real. Responding police officers spotted the animal calmly sauntering down the road, but soon lost sight of it after it ducked in behind a home.
That was the last anyone saw of the lion until almost 9 hours later when a resident on 9th Avenue called police and told them they had just seen a large brown cat walking away from the back of the home where officers had last seen it hours before.
In a repeat of its earlier tactics, the lion once more went to ground and hid from its human searchers. It wasn't until almost 6:30 p.m. that police were finally able to find and corner the elusive cat up in a tree along 9th Avenue.
At that point, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer arrived on scene and successfully shot a tranquilizer dart into the lion's right flank. The startled animal tried to run away but only made it a short distance before the sedative took affect and he fell asleep under some bushes.
The warden then constrained the lion in the back of a truck, and drove it to an undisclosed location where it was released back into the wild after the effects of the drug wore off.
What makes this particular wildlife relocation incident unique is the fact that San Mateo is also the district seat of California State Senator Jerry Hill. In 2013, Senator Hill introduced and passed legislation (SB 132) which requires responding authorities to use non-lethal procedures on non-aggressive mountain lions that have innocently wandered into human space.
San Mateo's elusive lion can now join the ranks of possibly a dozen others that are still alive today because of Senator Hill and the passage of Senate Bill 132 and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's new mountain lion response guidelines.