San Francisco Police Tranquilize, Capture Mountain Lion Spotted Snoozing in Diamond Heights

Days after a mountain lion was spotted outside Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff's house near the Presidio, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department has tranquilized and captured a cougar in the Diamond Heights neighborhood.

A San Francisco resident on Friday morning reported seeing a mountain lion sleeping amid trees, brush and ivy behind a housing complex.

Officials from the police, animal care and control, fish and wildlife, and parks and recreation departments were spotted in the vicinity of Diamond Heights Boulevard and Duncan Street, where they set up a perimeter as they tracked the big cat. 

Authorities decided to tranquilize the cat and relocate it because it was near a playground and in a heavily populated area.

"When I arrived the mountain lion was hunkered down," Lt. James Ober, a Fish and Wildlife game warden, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It appeared to be under a lot of stress."

Ober shot the 82-pound male a second time, after he saw the animal still moving after 10 minutes. By 2 p.m., the mountain lion had been loaded onto a truck, its paws secured with straps and a black mask over its eyes.

From a distance, the animal could be seen twitching, which officials say is a side effect of the tranquilizer and not an indication of the animal being in pain. 

"The drug doesn't allow them to have full control," Ober said to NBC Bay Area. "We put the mask over their eyes and put an ointment on their eyes so they don't dry out and it lowers the stimulation." 

The animal was turned over to the Santa Cruz Puma Project out of the University of California at Santa Cruz. It has since been fitted with a GPS collar and is ready to be released back into the wild.

California Fish and Wildlife officials initially thought that the puma was a female, but Chris Wilmers, a wildlife ecologist at the university and the head of the Puma Project, said it is "a typical young dispersal age male who takes a wrong turn."

Big cats were spotted twice in one week outside Benioff's house. It remains unknown if they are two different animals or the same one doubling back. 

"This lion likely came up from the natural lands just south of the city," said President of Felidae Conservation Fund Zara McDonald. "It's probable this may be the same lion that showed up on the Salesforce CEO's camera."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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