ROHNERT PARK (CBS SF) – A wayward mountain lion who caused a lockdown Monday morning at two colleges in Rohnert Park has been reassured and removed from the area, public safety officials have said.
The Rohnert Park Public Safety Department said Evergreen and Lawrence Jones Middle Schools were closed after a puma was seen walking along a nearby trail in the Five Creek Trail area and from Crane Creek Trail just east of Eagle Park.
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The mountain lion was seen wearing a tracking device and is known to the State Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Rohnert Park DPS said.
Fishing and wildlife officers arrived around 10 a.m. Monday to tranquilize the lion and place it back in its usual roaming spots. At 10:47 a.m., the lockdown on Lawrence Jones High School had been lifted and the lockdown on Evergreen Elementary School was due to end shortly.
The DPS said it received a call Monday morning saying the mountain lion had been sighted on the way to the creek.
It’s not hard to find the mountains beyond Evergreen Elementary, and fisheries and wildlife officials say this lion wouldn’t wander too far.
âTechnically, the puma was still in its home range,â said Ken Paglia, public information officer at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. âIt was at the very, very western edge of his home range and about 1,000 to 1,800 feet east of where he was seen, it was a big open space. It wasn’t really out of place.
The five-year-old cat had previously been collared by a local researcher and is said to have neurological issues.
âOur biologists observed that he was unstable on his feet,â Paglia said. âSomething may have happened to the mountain lion in the past. He could have been in a car accident, he could have fought, but he’s not the healthiest lion.
“I got out because I heard the helicopter, then my neighbors told me it was because there was a puma in the creek,” said Taylor Tischbern, a resident of Rohnert Park.
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Mountain Lion Foundation conservation attorney Josh Rosenau said between the proliferation of cameras and people stepping further into nature, these sightings occur more often.
âA lot of people move to be closer to these woods and then are a little surprised when suddenly things are coming out of the woods in their backyard,â he told KPIX 5.
In recent months, sightings of mountain lions have increased in the Bay Area.
Mountain lions have been caught hiding in the shadows of security cameras in Millbrae. A handful of residents of the Oakland Hills and Piedmont say they have seen mutilated deer carcasses in their neighborhoods. One feral cat was even taken from a tree in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood and transported to the Oakland Zoo while another broke into a San Bruno home filled with hunting trophies.
More than half of the state is cougar territory, and it’s not uncommon to see them spawning in unexpected places, according to officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The species typically migrates during the dry season in search of abundant food and water supplies, but it could travel further than usual as drought conditions increase and deer populations decline, said department spokesperson Ken Paglia.
âPlease know that we share the state with other wild animals, like mountain lions or bears, they are present,â Paglia said. “Even though they can potentially be dangerous, they are usually in town because they are looking for food resources and they are not there to harm us.”
Despite recent observations, the attack of a mountain lion is a rare event.
âWe want to make sure the public is safe, but we also want the animal to be able to live its life in its own habitat. This is probably the best solution, âPaglia said.
Installing movement center fires around the property, keeping pets indoors at night, and proper storage of pet food are some of the ways residents can avoid cougar encounters. . More Mountain Lion Foundation tips and tricks can be found at https://issuu.com/mountainlionfoundation/docs/cdfw_mlf_conflict_brochure_booklet_final_2020.
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Andria Borba contributed to this report.