Animal Control Responds to Mountain Lion in Backyard
UPDATE: Tranquilized and Captured on Apple Grove Lane Property
Updated 1:20 p.m., January 7, 2013
by TYLER HAYDEN (CONTACT)
[UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.]: The mountain lion that found itself trapped in the backyard of an Apple Grove Lane home this morning has been tranquilized and successfully captured by Fish and Wildlife officers. Sgt. Todd Johnson with the SBPD said the 140-pound animal — if it gets the all-clear from a veterinarian — will be released somewhere in the Los Padres National Forest, likely in the Paradise Road area. There’s also been talk of taking it somewhere near Little Pine Mountain.
Once the mountain lion was located on the property, which backs up against Santa Barbara’s municipal golf course, authorities set up a perimeter, told neighbors to stay indoors, put nearby Adams Elementary School on lockdown, and closed portions of the golf course as they planned their next move.
With police on roofs, a helicopter overhead, and a Fish and Wildlife officer armed with a tranquilizer gun suspended above the scene in a fire truck crow’s nest, the decision was made to subdue and trap the animal. Not long after, the mountain lion made a break from its hiding spot to a nearby bush, and one of the Fish and Wildlife officers got off a single shot that lodged a tranquilizer dart in the big cat’s shoulder.
The mountain lion remained conscious for the next few minutes as it continued to roam the yard but eventually succumbed to the sedative. It was loaded into a County Animal Control truck and transported to a clinic for observation.
Lt. Paul McCaffrey told media on the scene that the animal had apparently been living in the neighborhood “for quite some time” and that golf course employees had reported sightings in recent weeks. He said the mountain lion “had not been acting normally” and that it may be ill or simply lost.
[ORIGINAL REPORT]: County Animal Control personnel and state Fish and Wildlife officers are currently trying to corral a mountain lion in the backyard of a Santa Barbara home.
A resident in the 200 block of Apple Grove Lane near the municipal golf course called authorities at 7:07 a.m. when she spotted the big cat in her yard.
As of 9 a.m., the mountain lion was still on the property. According to SBPD spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood, Animal Control and Fish and Wildlife will attempt to “encourage it back toward the mountains” along similar routes — in creek beds and through drainage canals — that it likely used to get into the city in the first place. If that strategy doesn’t work, Harwood said, the animal may be tranquillized and captured.
Reverse 9-1-1 calls have gone out to residents in the area, and people with small pets and children are encouraged to keep them inside. Nearby schools, including Adams Elementary, were also notified.
Check back for updates as the situation develops.
BREAKING NEWS: Lion in Santa Barbara Relocated by CDFW
California Department of Fish and Wildlife is transporting a tranquilized mountain lion from a backyard in Santa Barbara to a nearby natural area in the Los Padres National Forest.
The home on Apple Grove Circle where the lion was sighted early the morning of Monday, January 7, 2013, is immediately adjacent to a large golf course that is connected by several small greenbelts to the Los Padres National Forest just a mile and a half to the north.
Julia Di Sieno, Executive Director of Animal Rescue Team, was onsite and reporting via telephone to the Mountain Lion Foundation. According to Julia “They used darts to tranquilize the animal, and if it is healthy, hope to relocate it. A local vet was available to make the health determination.”
“Two wardens with tranquilizer guns took a four wheel drive from the back of the house, where there is a very small greenbelt and fairly dense undergrowth. Wardens were also stationed in the backyard with the lion. They used a fire department ladder to aim darts down on the lion.”
CDFW Captain Steffanik is at the location, as is Scott Cohen, the local Santa Barbara warden, who is a biologist.
Prior to tranquilizing the lion, a Captain from the Santa Barbara Police Department assured media and interested residents that they were doing everything they can to use nonlethal methods to address the situation.
The lion likely followed a natural landscape feature down from the mountains and became blocked when confronted with more dense urban neighborhoods. Lions will seldom leave existing territories that have abundant food unless they are dispersing young animals searching for a territory of their own. Given the chance to return to the wild, most lions will do so come nightfall. Mountain lions are ‘crepuscular’: most active in periods of low light like dusk and dawn.
Click here and to see a map showing the lion’s possible paths from the north. Select the satellite view for a better sense of how a mountain lion might come into a populated urban area.
Department of Fish and Wildlife evaluated the situation in light of public outcries following the recent deaths of lions in Santa Monica, the Sierra Nevada Foothills and Half Moon Bay. Relocation of mountain lions is often possible, but is less likely to occur unless wardens and local first responders are immediately aware of people’s desires to see these animal saved.
The mountain lion (also known as cougar) may have been close enough to a school and neighboring properties to have warranted the cautionary notice of the situation where “Residents with small pets and children are urged to stay indoors.” Residents were also urged not to panic.
Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.
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