Mountain Lion Spotted Near Elementary School

The wild animal was reportedly seen near Bernardo Elementary School in Escondido Thursday morning

By Monica Garske and Tony Shin
|  Friday, May 11, 2012  |  Updated 6:50 AM PDT
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Someone spotted a mountain lion in a vacant field off Bernardo Avenue, just about 20 yards away from the school's playground. Parent Monica Cloney spoke with NBC 7's Tony Shin in this exclusive report.

Someone spotted a mountain lion in a vacant field off Bernardo Avenue, just about 20 yards away from the school's playground. Parent Monica Cloney spoke with NBC 7's Tony Shin in this exclusive report.

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Parents in Escondido were rattled Thursday after hearing reports of a possible mountain lion spotted near Bernardo Elementary School in Escondido.

According to parent Monica Cloney – whose son and daughter attend Bernardo Elementary – the principal of the school sent parents a voicemail Thursday alerting them about the mountain lion sighting.

"They were letting us know that there was a mountain lion spotted near the school," Cloney told NBC 7 San Diego in an exclusive interview.

According to the pre-recorded message, someone saw the mountain lion in a vacant field off Bernardo Avenue around 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The field is about 20-yards away from the school’s playground.

In the message, the principal said animal control and Escondido police were called immediately.

"Escondido Police responded by patrolling the area surrounding the school, no subsequent sightings of the mountain lion were reported," said Bernardo Elementary School principal Lisa Clark in her voicemail.

Mountain lions are common in San Diego County, especially in outlying areas where civilization continues to encroach on wildland.

However, Cloney said that what makes this sighting so concerning is that Bernardo Elementary School is located in a heavily populated area, far away from open land.

"I grew up in the area, I've never heard of a mountain lion around that area that close to a school," she added.

Although Cloney believes her son and daughter will be safe when they go back to school, she still plans on taking some extra precautions when she picks up her son because he usually walks down the street to meet her, which is near the vacant field.

"I won't let him walk down to our normal meeting place; I'll have him wait up by the school,” said Cloney.

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