Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Here kitty, kitty, kitty

"Here kitty, kitty, kitty"
Of all the places I have hiked , off all the remote trails and grasslands I have trekked I thought it was really odd to find myself driving to Mountain House to catch a glimpse of a mountain lion.  Sheriff deputies had sealed off a section of the community after reports of a mountain lion spotted sitting on a roof in one of the subdivisions.
California Mountain Lion image courtesy WikiCommons
Now just because it is called Mountain House doesn't mean it has to have mountain lions.  Like I have said in the canyons and hills of my hikes I have never caught site of a mountain lion.  I have seen coyotes, raccoons and skunks on the trail and have spotted a coyote or two in Mountain house but never a mountain lion.  So I raced out to Mountain House to see if I could catch a glimpse of the cat.
A San Joaquin County Sheriff deputy stands guard with a shotgun near the street where the mountain lion was reportedly scene.
It seems two neighbors on Monday morning spotted a cat sitting on the peak of a roof at about 7 am.  Sheriff deputies were called and reverse 911 call was made to the residents warning them to stay indoors.  Deputies set a perimeter and prepared to conduct a yard to yard search.  It look more like the scene of a bank robbery getaway than a missing cat.  it was the first day of school and fears of children being dragged off by a hungry mountain lion led deputies to take the call seriously.
A coyote roams Mountain House a few years ago.
County animal control officers arrived on scene with a tranquilizer gun to dart the cat if possible although they had been authorized to use deadly force to stop the mountain lion if it endangered lives.  The two residents had photographed the cat and the first photo reportedly looked like about a 70 pound cat standing over two feet tall.  Deputies armed with automatic rifles and shotguns led the animal controls officers on a search of yards in the area the cat was last scene.
Searching for the mountain lion in a Mountain House neighborhood.
A second photograph of the cat spotted in the neighborhood was examined and it was determined that the cat sighted was most likely a very, very large feral cat.  It's about this time I had one of those WTF! moments.
Another type of California Mountain Lion.
Driving over I thought it was possible but really unlikely a mountain lion had wandered into town.  I also thought it would be pretty funny never to see one on the trail and then be eaten by one in Mountain House off all places.  I asked the deputies if they thought maybe it could have been a coyote as I had seen them in Mountain House before.  They assured me it looked like a cat in the picture. Alas, no hungry lion searching for the next kill, just a fat feral cat sunning himself on a nice, quiet Monday morning until all the guys with guns showed up.
A San Joaquin County Sheriff deputy with an automatic rifle searches a street in Mountain House where the mountain lion was reportedly scene.
So it turns out it was just a feral cat after all, one of many living in the country setting, hiding in the tall weeds and bushes of the nearby creek bed.  It would have been a a much better story if it had actually been a real mountain lion prowling the city streets.  Maybe we will get lucky and the next wildlife call will be for a grizzly bear on 10th Street.  I'm all over that call for sure.