Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mountain Lion Spotted in Morgan Hill, Calif Neighborhood

This mountain lion was seen in the Holiday Lake Estates subdivision Monday morning.
Photo by: Special to The Times

A mountain lion was given about four hours to vacate an east Morgan Hill neighborhood before police used pepper-spray guns to force it back into its own habitat Monday, police said.

Morgan Hill police received a phone call about 9 a.m. from a resident of Holiday Lake Estates, off East Dunne Avenue, who reported the 100-pound adult cat was resting near his backyard, Sgt. Jerry Neumayer said.

The resident called from the 17300 block of Lakeview Drive.

The local animal control officer went to the scene and saw the mountain lion laying near the rear entrance to the home's backyard. The officer contacted state Department of Fish and Game officials, who "didn't feel the need to respond" at first, Neumayer said.

Instead, the game wardens told police that it would be safe to leave the animal alone, but keep an eye on it until it went back into its habitat on its own.

Police passed out flyers around the subdivision and provided information to residents about what they should do, and who they could contact for more information, Neumayer said.

But the predacious feline, whose sex was unknown, did not leave. About 1:30 p.m. police decided - because more people would be returning home from school and work in the afternoon - to forcefully persuade the animal to leave the neighborhood, Neumayer said.

Police used a pepper-ball gun, which launches pellets that break open on impact and contain an irritating pepper-like substance intended to subdue people or animals, Neumayer said. After launching one round from the pepper-ball gun toward the ground in front of the mountain lion, the cat ran in a northeastern direction.

Authorities at the scene lost sight of the animal near Blue Jay Court, Neumayer said.

"We're hoping the animal got scared and went back to its habitat," Neumayer said.

Police are in the process of using its alert system to notify area residents of the mountain lion sighting with automated phone messages.

Morgan Hill police receive "one or two calls a year" of mountain lion sightings, Neumayer said.

"They're usually gone before we get there," he added.

Anyone with more information about Monday's mountain lion sighting can contact Morgan Hill police at (408) 779-2101, or the Department of Fish and Game at (707) 944-5500.

www.bigcatrescue.org

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