ROHNERT PARK (CBS SF) – A stubborn mountain lion that resulted in a lockdown at two middle schools in Rohnert Park on Monday morning has been calmed and removed from the area, public safety officials said.
The Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety said both Evergreen and Lawrence Jones Middle Schools were closed after a mountain lion walked on a nearby trail in the Five Creek Trail and Crane Creek Trail area east of Eagle Park.
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The mountain lion was seen with a tracking device and is known to the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Rohnert Park DPS told.
Fish and wildlife officials arrived around 10 a.m. Monday to calm the lion and return it to its regular migration area. As of 10:47 a.m., the lock on Lawrence Jones Middle School was lifted and the lock on Evergreen Elementary School was due to end shortly.
DPS said it received a call on Monday morning that the mountain lion was sighted on the creek path.
Finding the mountains beyond the Evergreen Elementary isn’t hard, and Fish and Wildlife officials say this lion didn’t wander too far.
“Technically, the mountain lion was still in its home range,” said Ken Paglia, public information officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It was on the far western edge of his home range, and about 300 to 1,800 feet east of his position was a wide open area. It wasn’t really out of place. “
The five-year-old female cat was previously given a collar by a local researcher and is believed to have some neurological problems.
“Our biologists have determined that it is unsafe on its feet,” said Paglia. “Perhaps something happened to the mountain lion in the past. It could have gotten into a car accident, it could have gotten into a fight, but it’s not the healthiest lion. “
“I came outside because I heard the helicopter, and then my neighbors actually told me that it was because there was a mountain lion in the creek,” said Taylor Tischbern, resident of Rohnert Park.
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Conservation advocate Josh Rosenau of the Mountain Lion Foundation says these sightings are more common between the spread of cameras and people moving further into nature.
“A lot of people move out to be closer to these forests and are then a little surprised when things suddenly come from the forest into their backyard,” he told KPIX 5.
Mountain lion sightings in the Bay Area have increased in recent months.
Mountain lions have been caught in the shadow of surveillance cameras in Millbrae. A handful of residents in the Oakland Hills and Piedmont said they saw mutilated deer carcasses in their neighborhood. One wildcat was even caught in a tree in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood and transported to the Oakland Zoo, while another broke into a San Bruno home full of wildlife trophies.
More than half of the state is Mountain Lion Territory, and it’s not uncommon for them to show up in unexpected places, according to officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The species usually migrates during the dry season in search of plenty of food and water, but it could travel further than usual as drought conditions increase and deer population declines, department spokesman Ken Paglia said.
“Be aware that we share the state with other wildlife, like mountain lions or bears, they are nearby,” said Paglia. “While they can be potentially dangerous, they are usually in the city looking for food resources and not there to harm us.”
Despite recent sightings, it is rare for a mountain lion to be attacked.
“We want to make sure the public is safe, but we also want the animal to live its life in its own habitat. That is probably the best solution, ”said Paglia.
Installing motion center lights around the property, keeping pets indoors at night, and storing food appropriately are some of the ways residents can avoid encounters with mountain lions. Further tips and tricks from the Mountain Lion Foundation can be found at https://issuu.com/mountainlionfoundation/docs/cdfw_mlf_conflict_brochure_booklet_final_2020.
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Andria Borba contributed to this report.