Crime - Sacto 911

Mountain lion reported in city limits; Sacramento police and wildlife officials on alert

Woman describes reported mountain lion sighting in Sacramento

A mountain lion was sighted on Aug. 28, 2019 in the Southeast Village neighborhood of Sacramento. It was spotted around 5 p.m and police and wildlife officials worked to find the animal.
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A mountain lion was sighted on Aug. 28, 2019 in the Southeast Village neighborhood of Sacramento. It was spotted around 5 p.m and police and wildlife officials worked to find the animal.

Officers spent Wednesday evening in a south Sacramento neighborhood searching for a mountain lion after a woman called 911 to report spotting a cat the size of a large dog walk across a fence.

Three police cruisers, an animal control officer and a state game warden headed to the area of Elder Creek Road and Cougar Drive just after 5 p.m. in the Southeast Village section of the city. A reverse-911 call was placed to residents in the area.

Patrick Foy of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said that his agency’s personnel assisted Sacramento Police and Sacramento County Animal Control officials in an hourlong search and could not confirm a mountain lion was in the area.

“They looked around, they went into people’s backyards, and all of the adjoining properties,” he said. “They found dogs and ducks, of all things, that didn’t seem to be stressed out about anything. They spent the full hour looking.”

Foy said that while the search turned up nothing, officials are “still on standby” to respond if needed.

By 7 p.m., officers were still looking for the cat in an area not far from Camellia Park and the Camellia Elementary School. The first day of classes at the elementary school is Thursday. Police warned residents on Twitter to bring any pets inside their homes.

A woman who identified herself only by her first name, Tammy, said she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw a tawny cat about the size of a golden retriever traipse across the back fence outside a home where her husband was working.

She couldn’t stop shaking.

“Ain’t nobody gonna believe me,” she said.

She called 911 from her car. An officer who arrived saw the cat hop into an adjacent backyard, she said.

James Davis, who lives in the area, said he was baffled when he received an automated call from law enforcement dispatchers alerting residents to be cautious.

“What the hell is it doing running around an urban area?” Davis said.

In the rare event you encounter a lion, biologists say it’s best to make loud noises, throw rocks and appear as large as possible to intimidate the cat as you back away slowly. Officials urge to anyone who sees a mountain lion in the area to call 911.

While California’s mountain lions inhabit mountains and rugged forests, as a general rule state wildlife officials say that if you see deer, the odds are high that a mountain lion is around, too.

That is true, they say, even in places such as Sacramento, where deer habitat is found in the surrounding farmland and foothills, and in the greenbelts, parkways and river corridors that criss-cross the city.

Deer are a mountain lion’s preferred prey, and deer are attracted to tasty landscaping plants and gardens in suburbia. As such, mountain lions sometimes find themselves in Sacramento.

In June 2014, a state wildlife officer darted another young male cougar in an Oak Park backyard.

And, in February, a mountain lion was tranquilized in a North Natomas backyard after it was spotted walking past someone’s door bell camera. Wildlife officials later released the wayward cougar into a wilderness area.

The Natomas lion was likely a young male that was trying to find a place to live away from older, aggressive males with established territories, and he likely ended up lost in suburbia, wildlife officials said at the time.

In the past 25 years, cougars have killed at least three people in California, but experts say the vast majority of sightings end harmlessly.

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Ryan Sabalow covers environment, general news and enterprise and investigative stories for McClatchy’s Western newspapers. Before joining The Bee in 2015, he was a reporter at The Auburn Journal, The Redding Record Searchlight and The Indianapolis Star.
Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.