Mountain lions are known to prowl rocky ridges, canyons or even dense brush, but the flat farmlands of Turlock are not exactly known to entice the furtive felines. However, that wasn’t the case on Sunday.
A female mountain lion, weighing an estimated 80 to 100 pounds, made her way to the 5000 block of E. Linwood Avenue, where she broke through the door of a residence and then clawed her way up a large eucalyptus tree on the property.
The mountain lion was shot and killed by Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputies when it attempted to climb down from the tree.
The homeowners first believed their home was being burglarized after hearing a large crash and finding a door busted open, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Royjindar Singh.
The sheriff’s department was contacted and deputies searched the residence, but found no one inside and nothing missing.
It wasn’t until the homeowner’s dogs started barking at the base of the eucalyptus tree that the mountain lion’s presence was noticed.
Deputies contacted California’s Department of Fish and Game and learned that wardens had been investigating reports of a mountain lion in that area over the past month.
The Fish and Game department said a warden would be en-route to assist deputies in trying to remove the animal from the property. The department also advised the deputies that if the mountain lion came down from the tree, the animal could pose an immediate threat to due to the fact it was out of its normal habitat.
Before the Fish and Game warden arrived on scene, the mountain lion started coming down from the tree and the deputies were forced to shoot and kill the animal, Singh said.
The Department of Fish and Game took custody of the mountain lion and are conducting a follow-up investigation.
Fish and Game Information Officer Janice Mackey said a necropsy has been performed on the animal to determine if it was sick and to give a clue as to where it may have been roaming and living.
“It was about 40 miles as the crow flies from its natural habitat,” Mackey said.
The last documented sighting of a mountain lion in Stanislaus County was in 2002, according to the Department of Fish and Game’s website.
Mackey said mountain lions are typically skittish of people. If a mountain lion is displaying unusually bold or aggressive behavior, it is the Fish and Game’s policy to put the animal down instead of relocating it because of the danger it could pose.
Mountain lions are not threatened or endangered in California. In 1990 they were classified as “specially protected species,” which makes hunting them in California illegal.