Crime - Sacto 911

Mountain lion found in east Sacramento, tranquilized

Mabel Furr had no idea that anything was amiss until a Sacramento police officer knocked on her door.

“He said, ‘There’s a mountain lion in your backyard. Stay inside and do not come out,’ ” said Furr, 74, a retired public employee. “I was kind of shocked but not afraid.”

A mountain lion was found Saturday night in the backyard of Furr’s North Oak Park home at the corner of 32nd and X streets. It was tranquilized and captured by Sacramento police and a California Department of Fish and Wildlife warden. The animal was a young male, about 11/2 years old, and weighed 70 pounds. It was released into the wild Sunday, officials said.

The big cat had apparently been roaming through east Sacramento early Saturday. The first sighting was reported at 1:35 a.m. near 58th and M streets. Sacramento police officers checked the area but were unable to locate anything.

At about 3 a.m., another report came in from a motorist who was following the big cat south on 36th Street from Folsom Boulevard. About an hour later, while checking the area, a police lieutenant spotted the feline at 36th and R streets. He watched it jump over a chain-link fence near Highway 50 and lost sight of it.

Animal-control officers were notified, and an automated call went out to area residents advising them of the mountain lion.

At 10:21 p.m. Saturday, a caller reported seeing it at 32nd and X streets. The first police officer to respond spotted the mountain lion inside Furr’s fenced yard. Additional officers arrived to secure the area while waiting for a Fish and Wildlife warden.

Furr said that when she heard on the news earlier Saturday that the animal was last spotted at 36th and R streets, she half hoped that she would see it. “I thought to myself maybe he’ll come down this way and take refuge in my yard,” she said. “I was surprised that it came true.”

It took a while for four police officers to spot the animal in her backyard, which has dense foliage. “It was dark, and they were using flashlights,” she said. “It would be hard to find him.”

Furr on Sunday pointed out the spot between a stack of tomato cages and a large saguaro cactus where the mountain lion was found. After police about 20 minutes, Furr said, officers asked her for the keys to the back gate so that they could go inside the yard and tranquilize the big cat.

“I think he had a rough night, and he didn’t have anything to eat or drink, so he was willing to go with them (the police and wildlife officers) and go back to the wild,” she said.

Furr said the police officers and the warden placed the animal on a piece of canvas and carried him out to a grassy spot next to the sidewalk. She said the mountain lion had its legs tied up, and she watched as the warden put some drops into the animal’s eyes before blindfolding him. “He didn’t seem that big,” she said. “I though he was about 60 pounds.”

While Furr didn’t see the capture, her neighbor Ciana Yniguez, 52, had a front-row seat from a living room window overlooking Furr’s garden.

Yniguez and a friend, Eric Navarro, 41, had just returned to Yniguez’s home shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday. “We happened to turn on the TV and we hear that a mountain lion was spotted by police at 32nd and X streets,” she said. “We looked out the window and we saw all the lights shining.”

Yniguez said the police had been looking for the animal up in the trees before finally spotting it on the ground, about 15 feet from her open window. Navarro had wanted her to close the window, but she didn’t think that was necessary. “I didn’t hear it make any noise,” she said.

She said she heard a soft “pop” when the mountain lion was tranquilized, and the officers waited for some time to make sure that the animal was out. She said she couldn’t see more than a glimpse of its head when officers took the animal out of Furr’s back yard.

“It’s a jungle out there,” she said. “He found the perfect yard.”

Yniguez said that since it was late, she didn’t go outside to see the tranquilized animal. But she said she found the whole experience exciting.

“It’s just another night in Oak Park,” she said. “I don’t know how he got so far away, that he was able to travel from east Sacramento to here without anyone seeing him. It’s pretty unbelievable.”

Related stories from Sacramento Bee