Mountain View Voice

News - May 9, 2014

Puma captured near Rengstorff Park

110-pound mountain lion released after being trapped in parking garage

by Kevin Forestieri

Game wardens and police captured an errant mountain lion near Rengstorff park Tuesday night, four hours after it was spotted wandering between apartment complexes near Central Expressway.

The Mountain View Police Department received two reports shortly after 6 p.m. that a mountain lion had been spotted on South Rengstorff Avenue. Tom Arledge, a resident in the area, said he just gotten home and went outside with his house cat to get the mail when his neighbor pointed out the 110-pound male mountain lion.

Arledge's wife called 911 after failing to contact animal control numbers, which police told him was the right decision.

Arledge said the mountain lion was not aggressive, and did not attempt to attack anyone.

"It was hanging out under a tree and seemed pretty calm," Arledge said. "Around 6:30 p.m. it got up and jumped effortlessly into the neighboring apartment complex."

Police get reports of mountain lions once in a while, but usually from the North Shoreline area, and many of the "mountain lions" are actually just large, feral cats, said Sgt. Saul Jaeger of the Mountain View Police Department.

In this case, one of the reports to police included a picture of the animal, which an officer was able to confirm was a mountain lion. Police arrived at the scene and went door to door at the nearby apartments telling people to stay indoors, and told people outside to clear out of the area.

The mountain lion walked into a gated parking garage at the bottom of the Parkview West complex, where police were able to close the gate and trap the lion inside while they prepared the tranquilizer rifle.

Jaeger said that the mountain lion was tagged prior to the incident by the Santa Cruz Puma Project, a wildlife research organization, and it was an associate with the puma project that fired the tranquilizer at the mountain lion.

It took about five minutes for the tranquilizer to take effect, then police and game wardens from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife captured and transported the mountain lion out of the area.

Jaeger said police are happy the situation resolved itself positively. He said public safety is the department's first priority, but officers don't want to take the life of anything if they can avoid it.

The mountain lion, which was trending on Twitter as #MVpuma, is known as 46M to the Santa Cruz Puma project, which identified it as a male juvenile, 18- to 24-months-old, that was living with its mother and brother east of Boulder Creek when it was trapped, tagged and released in January.

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