On the morning of Monday, December 7, residents in the coastal community of Pacific Grove (Monterey County, California), were surprised to see a mountain lion walking across roofs and climbing neighborhood trees.
Pacific Grove police officers were dispatched and notified the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). They arrived on the 300 block of Eardley Avenue to find the young mountain lion settled on a comfortable tree branch and was likely ready to sleep until nightfall.
Fish and Wildlife Captain Don Kelly said it's typical for a mountain lion to be still and quiet during the day.
"It was roosting in a comfortable spot, very relaxed, not anxious," Kelly said.
Under California's new mountain lion public safety law (courtesy of SB 132 and CDFW's lion protocol), any non-aggressive lion in an urban area must be handled with non-lethal force. A few years ago, this situation may not have had a happy ending. But increased training and tools allowed the two CDFW biologists on site to tranquilize and transport the cat back into the wild.
"They did a great job of bringing down the animal gently," PGPD Commander Roy Lakind noted, adding that the cat made its way down the tree after being struck, then quickly fell back to sleep.
"The mountain lion was unharmed and transported away from the scene for relocation. [...] She looked a little bit bigger up in the tree. She's a beautiful animal," Lakind commented.
Biologists estimate the young female lion was approximately 18-22 months old, and appeared to be "in very very good shape" according to Captain Kelly.
This is the age when lions are kicked out of the nest by their mothers and must disperse to find a vacant territory of their own. Having never been out of mom's home range before, these inexperienced lions sometimes wander through human populated areas as they learn how to traverse the landscape.
Luckily, this occurred in a state where lions have legal protection. Other parts of the country have zero tolerance policies for lions in town.
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