There has been another confirmed sighting of the mountain lion that has been prowling Turlock’s neighborhoods for several weeks.
The latest sighting came early Tuesday by an off-duty police officer in the northeast area of Turlock.
At 1:04 a.m. the off-duty officer said he saw the mountain lion in the 1900 block of N. Quincy Road, near Lynborough Court.
The mountain lion ran off, but about four minutes later there was another confirmed sighting. The California Highway Patrol reported spotting the mountain lion in the area of Santa Fe Avenue and E. Zeering Road. The CHP reported the mountain lion was last seen running north.
Turlock Police officers searched the area, but had no further sightings of the big cat.
On Friday, the Turlock Police Department investigated an unconfirmed sighting of the mountain lion in the area of Tuolumne Road and Olive Avenue. Norman Esakhani reported he came home around 12:30 a.m. Friday and heard his pit bull fighting with something in the backyard. He said he heard the dog yelp and then it came running toward him with a gash across its head.
The first confirmed sighting of a mountain lion roaming Turlock was on Sept. 21. The mountain lion was spotted around 6 p.m. by residents in the area of Anning Drive and N. Johnson Road. Several Turlock Police officers responded to the area and confirmed seeing the mountain lion, which was estimated at about 90 pounds.
Later that night California Fish and Wildlife officials were inspecting the animal’s tracks when it jumped down from a tree, bounded over a fence, and was lost in the darkness.
Since that time there have been several unconfirmed sightings of the mountain lion, but officials believed it had moved on from the area.
It is suspected a mountain lion was responsible for an attack on a horse in Hilmar. The suspected mountain lion attack was discovered on Aug. 23 when a 600-pound yearling was found dead in a pasture at a ranch off of Golf Link Road in Hilmar. The horse sustained a fatal bite to the neck that punctured all the way to the spinal cord, said Jessica Wright, the caretaker at the ranch.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife does have a biologist with tranquilizer darts on standby about 20 minutes away from Turlock.
In 1990 California voters passed Proposition 117 that declared mountain lions at “specially protected species” and made it illegal to hunt them. Mountain lions can only be killed if a special permit is issued to kill a particular mountain lion that is killing livestock or pets; if it is deemed a threat to public safety; or if it is to protect listed bighorn sheep, which are endangered.
The California Department of Fish and Game has a crude estimate that about 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions are roaming the state. Mountain lions typically are found in areas of higher ground, where deer — their main food source — live in abundant numbers.
Anyone spotting the mountain lion is asked to call 911.