"Anybody missing their cat?"
A mountain lion, also known as a cougar, led police on a merry foot chase through Southern California backyards Saturday morning, the Sacramento Bee reported.
After locals spotted the big cat in Santa Ana and Tustin and reported it to authorities, an Orange County sheriff's helicopter tracked it down. The mountain lion resisted arrest and police began a "lengthy foot pursuit" through the neighborhood.
Sheriff's deputies described the chase in an Instagram post.
"This morning Duke 1 responded to the unincorporated area of Santa Ana in response to reports of a mountain lion sighting," the deputies wrote.
"The Duke crew quickly located the large cat in a backyard and directed @ocsdnorthpatrol Deputies, @tustinpolice officers and Fish and Game wardens to its location. A lengthy foot pursuit ensued through the neighborhood until the mountain lion was safely tranquilized and taken into custody to be relocated back into the wild.
"This definitely falls into the category of 'we don't see this everyday," the deputies said.
Area residents reported seeing the mountain lion earlier that day.
"My neighbor texted me at eight o'clock this morning and said, watch your doggies because we just had a mountain lion in our backyard," Jocelyn Kelly told KTLA-TV.
Police and animal control took care of the cat professionally and no one reported any injuries related to its capture.
"It wasn't really all that scary," Kelly said. "They handled it so beautifully, that they didn't make you afraid, and I am an animal lover so all I wanted to make sure is that they didn't kill it."
Mountain lion sightings in the area are not uncommon as more than half of California serves as a habitat for the big cats.
"Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people by nature," the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says on its website. "However, as human population expands into mountain lion habitat, more frequent sightings may occur and human/mountain lion encounters may increase."
Here are some tips to follow if you encounter a mountain lion, courtesy of KTLA:
- Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.
- Do not run. Running may trigger chase, catch and kill response.
- Do not turn your back on a mountain lion. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms, or opening your jacket if wearing one; throw rocks or other objects.
- Pick up small children.
- Do not crouch down or bend over.
- Speak calmly and don't use high pitched tones or high pitch screams.
- If a lion attacks, fight back.
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