After days of late-night sightings in and around downtown San Francisco, a sub-adult mountain lion was safely caught — without the use of tranquilizers — by police and animal control officers early Thursday morning.
Between blue whales making pit stops near the Farallon Islands to a peregrine falcon father consuming his own young (on live internet television, no less) in a nest perched at the PG&E building on Beale Street, it's already been quite a wild week for the Bay Area. And now, we can add the capturing of a rarely seen adolescent mountain lion — believed to be the same big cat seen dotting around city streets earlier this week — to that list.
⚠️ Mountain Lion Spotted ⚠️— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) June 18, 2020
Mountain Lion last spotted in the East Cut Neighborhood of #SF. If seen stay away, back up slowly facing the lion, and do not run. Call @SFACC at 415-554-9400. For after hours assistance please call 911. pic.twitter.com/lnDm7e5Wbh
According to KPIX and NBC Bay Area, the mountain lion, which is estimated by wildlife experts to be around 15-months old, was again seen patrolling in San Francisco Thursday at 5:22 a.m., this time at Fourth and Channel streets in Mission Bay. SFPD officers were quick to respond, shutting down an area near Oracle Park to create a perimeter around the said 50-pound young cougar. City animal control officers shortly arrived on the scene and by 6:30 a.m. were able to capture the animal.
"In 24 hours, [the cat had] only moved a few blocks, the poor guy really needed some help,” San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) spokeswoman Deb Campbell told KPIX, hinting that this specific sighting and capture might’ve been a first for the city: “We never had a mountain lion right in the middle of downtown San Francisco.”
Catching a mountain lion with a net-- just another day on the job of Captain Corso and ACO Pone. 😲😬 pic.twitter.com/Z4o9HK8UDF— SF Animal Care (@SFACC) June 18, 2020
Campbell noted that the cub was clearly "lost" and perhaps a bit nostalgic. Photos and videos were taken of the cat gazing at its own reflection in windows as it passed alongside nearby offices and apartments, Campbell adding the cougar might've "thought [his reflection] was his mom or brother or sister."
Nevertheless, the male mountain lion is "doing well" and is "healthy,” per the SFACC representative.
SFGate now reports the big cat is currently being held at the Oakland Zoo where he's under examination by a veterinarian specializing in wildlife. Because the cat wasn't tranquilized, his recovery from the ordeal and reintroduction back into the wild are both expected to go over seamlessly. No injuries to any on-site SFPD or animal control officers were reported during the capture, as well.
Where the cat will eventually be released is still unknown — though we’d imagine it’ll be miles away from the foot traffic in downtown SF.
North American cougars (a.k.a. mountain lions) are one of two remaining examples of the genus Puma, the other being the much less abundant, smaller Florida panther; the eastern cougar, another subspecies of mountain lion, was declared officially extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.
Image: Unsplash via Leah Huyghe