Schools on alert after police drive away mountain lion

Adult male mountain lions, shown here in a file photo, are

Schools are on alert after police were forced to use a gun that
shoots pepper bullets to scare away a juvenile mountain lion that
had been wandering the streets of Gilroy since Sunday evening,
police said.
Schools are on alert after police were forced to use a gun that shoots pepper bullets to scare away a juvenile mountain lion that had been wandering the streets of Gilroy since Sunday evening, police said.

The juvenile animal, which officers estimated may weigh about 80 pounds, was not aggressive, police said. Officers launched pepper balls around the animal to usher it toward a field at the western edge of Ronan Avenue, where it was last seen sometime after 3:25 a.m.

Police first received a report at 11 p.m. Sunday evening that a “dog-sized” mountain lion was roaming the streets near an apartment complex on the 500 block of Stoney Court.

Officers arrived on the scene a short time later to find that the mountain lion had left the area and headed toward the Sixth Street bridge over U.S. 101.

At about 3 a.m., another caller advised police that a mountain lion was in the area of Mantelli Drive and Wren Avenue. Officers responded within minutes but could not find the cat, police said.

Police then received a call at 3:25 a.m. from a man on the 500 block of Tatum Avenue who said a mountain lion was in front of his home. Police arrived on the scene a short time later and found a juvenile mountain lion near the 600 block of Ronan Avenue.

Police said they will work with the state Department of Fish and Game throughout the day to resolve the issue.

An adult male mountain lion is typically between 2 and 2.5 feet tall and between 5 and 9 feet long. Males usually weigh between 115 and 160 pounds, but have been known to grow to 260 pounds in prey-rich areas during flush times. Females are typically smaller.

Gilroy has had its share of confirmed mountain lion sightings and interactions. In mid-2007, sheriff’s deputies shot and killed an aggressive 70-pound mountain lion that had killed six goats and been seen near people’s houses in unincorporated Gilroy. Later that year, police trapped and removed a 50- to 60-pound juvenile mountain lion from a home in a north Gilroy housing complex, where it had been found after a night of munching on dog food left on the back patio.

Last year, six goats in western Gilroy were killed in suspected mountain lion attacks.

More than half of California is mountain lion habitat, according to the Department of Fish and Game, but the cats are usually harmless: Fewer than 3 percent of sightings end in attacks. If confronted by a lion, wardens recommend that people puff up, make a lot of noise and avoid running, which prompts cats to chase them.

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