Mountain lion killed in Redwood City backyard


Authorities shot and killed a mountain lion that they cornered in a backyard after it wandered into a Redwood City neighborhood Tuesday morning (March 29).

The cat was first spotted at about 8:15 a.m. near Alameda de las Pulgas and Whipple Avenue.

Police set up a perimeter and trapped the animal in the backyard of a home near Whipple and Woodsworth avenues, about a block from Sequoia Hospital.

The mountain lion was shot by California Department of Fish and Game wardens at about 11:30 a.m.

Department spokesman Kyle Orr said the cat, a roughly 120-pound female, was hissing at the wardens, and that they didn't want to risk having it escape and run loose through the neighborhood.

Additionally, the animal's position would have made it difficult to hit with tranquilizers, he said.

"They couldn't get a clear shot to dart the cougar because it was essentially between two fences," Orr said.

Cherie and Wally Oliver, who live at 2515 Whipple Ave., where the cat was trapped, said the animal was in a tree in their backyard at one point. Cherie Oliver said there is a hot tub about 20 feet from the tree.

"I'll think twice in the hot tub at night when I hear rustling in the leaves," she said.

Oliver, who was home sick from work Tuesday, said she agrees with the decision to shoot the mountain lion.

"They couldn't chance him being wounded and running off terrorizing the neighborhood," she said.

Scott Delucchi, a spokesman for the Peninsula Humane Society, said police initially contacted the PHS to see if it had tranquilizing equipment.

He said the PHS told police that the agency doesn't typically deal with mountain lion incidents.

More than 600 residents were alerted about the mountain lion's presence through an automated phone call sent out Tuesday morning.

Camille Torres, who lives nearby, said she thinks it was smart to kill the mountain lion because it was in a residential area near a park and a hospital.

"If something happened, we'd all be saying, 'How come you didn't do anything?'" she said. "I'm all for saving the animal, but you never know what can happen."

Her friend and neighbor, Barbara Britschgi, disagreed, saying she was very upset the mountain lion was killed.

"They should still be able to put it in a cage for God's sake," she said. "There was more danger because of traffic that was going past than from the mountain lion."

After the cat was shot, Fish and Game agents loaded it into the back of a truck parked in the driveway of the home and eventually drove away.

No injuries to humans were reported.

Orr said there are 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions in California. Attacks on humans are extremely rare -- there have been only 14 verified mountain lion attacks on humans in California since 1890, he said.

"That said, mountain lions are a top-of-the-line predator; they're a very powerful animal," Orr said.

Anyone who sees a mountain lion can report it to the Department of Fish and Game. If there is a public safety threat, Orr advised residents to call 911.

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Like this comment
Posted by George K.
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:38 am

Tough call. But I have to take issue with the image of a mountain lion "terrorizing the neighborhood." That's a better description of your kids, I suspect. "Heading for safe habitat like a bat out of hell" would probably be closer to the truth.

Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

reminds me of the walter hays incident. NO EXCUSES...they could have saved that animal. If it had been hit by a tranquilizer and then "escaped" it wouldn't get far, now would it!

It's really about time our system stopped accepting undue force on anyone or anything.

Like this comment
Posted by tranquilizers
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:44 am

Weird that the cops had to beg the Humane Society for tranquilizers. Wild animal situations are just going to get more common as people build homes in the hills and global warming decreases the natural food supply on the remaining open space land. The cops need to update their training and equipment to handle these situations more easily.

Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:55 am

There is NO EXCUSE for shooting a mountain lion.
There are tranquilizers that work fast and the animal could have to
relocated to the hills.
"Our" police are ill-equipped, ill-informed, and trigger happy!

Like this comment
Posted by Mom from Walter Hays
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:31 am

If the police could get a clear enough shot to kill the cougar, they could have shot it with a dart just as easily. This is simply expedience at the expense of compassion.

Like this comment
Posted by Unbelievable!
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:43 am

Nice spin on this by local media and authorities, but they did not have to kill this animal - it was just the easy way out. Didn't have to happen at all - just needed more patience. And of course, everyone is worried about being sued. I feel very bad that this animal was killed, and I live in the area, and I don't believe it had to happen this way at all. I wish I could sue on behalf of the cat!

Like this comment
Posted by Jean
a resident of Woodside
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Attacks on humans are extremely rare as reported. This mountain lion has been spotted in my emerald hills neighborhood for years and I did not have a problem with it. It was absolutely unnecessary to kill the mountain lion. They didn't even try tranquilizers and if a bullet could've been shot so could a tranquilizer!

Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by La Mont
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm

People are scared of nature., What would you suppose would likely happen if you build in their territory ?
Another who commeneted on here said it was done out of expedience.......... and I add " but at the expense of the cat ! ".
If the cat was a difficult shot and caught between two fences, then she was seeking immediate refuge. The cat should have been waited out and the neighbors should have been controlled far as a " looky loo " aspect. Setting a perimeter is what police are trained to do, what happened ?!?
A tranquilizer and relocation are precesses that do occur in these cases !! GET IT RIGHT !!

Like this comment
Posted by glenna
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm

So sad - we should have a better explanation as to why tranquilizers were not used!

Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Sad to say, if there had been a pool on how this would turn out, I would have bet on exactly this outcome. Too complicated to just give the poor cat a way out, rather than "cornering it". How freaking stupid is that? Corner a kitten some time and see what happens. You will learn a basic fact of life. Given that it happened in Redwood City, I can't imagine anyone thought this would turn out any other way. I too would like to know why this animal could not be tranquilized, rather than "euthanized".

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Posted by Not Digestible Protein
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm

It's always easy to second guess the cops after the fact, isn't it. They are charged with doing their best to protect public safety. If they had darted the cat and didn't get an immediate anesthetic effect and someone had gotten hurt, you'd all be baying for blood. But there's a stronger argument for not darting mountain lions: the ones that have gotten over the fear of urban areas need to be removed from the gene pool. Darting is not good enough. They'll just be back.

I'm in the Walter Hays School district and my kids were walking home from Jordan the afternoon they shot the mountain lion in Palo Alto years back. I sent the Chief of Police a thank you note for having the cojones to take out the cat. My kids are not digestible protein, thank you very much. I don't want to walk out in my backyard and see the reflection of glowing golden eyes up in the tree. A 223 hollow point properly placed is the correct solution to this problem.

Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I would like to sue Redwood City Police on the behalf of the mountain lion. I find this type of mammal profiling to be insane. I bet if it was a bear, they would have given it a pot of honey and send it on its way.

Where is the ACLU in this situation? Think about the mountain lion's family's pain and suffering. The insanity!!

Cat's's drool!

Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Oh, noooooo... what a tragedy!!! This is such a sad news. I am hurt to hear this happened. Please, don't ever do that again. Use tranquilizers! This makes me incredibly sad.

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Posted by Leslie
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Oh come on, they couldn't at least try and hit it with a tranquilizer gun and have someone else there ready to shoot it with a gun if it tried to get away. For a high tech society why is it we always do things "old school".

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Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Killing the lioness was NOT necessary. What are tranquillizer darts for, for heaven's sake? There likely are cubs that will now die from lack of food because their mother has been killed.

Detestable action on the part of humans.

Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Cars speeding through a residential street at 45-50mph are thousands of times more dangerous than a mountain lion and kill far more people than mountain lions, yet no one is shooting at them. That animal didn't attack anyone. hbuQWhat a cruel thing to do. They didn't even attempt to tranquilize it. Humans are the cruelest animals in nature.

Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:42 pm

CA Fish & Game Wardens know better than all of you what to do in this situation. They did not do this out of sport; they are the biggest conservationists out there. If it wasn't for them, there would be no wildlife in California.

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Posted by Ed
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm

People have been watching too many wildlife documentaries on TV -- those are edited sequences. Tranquilizer darts do not act instantly, and not even in a minute or two -- they take several minutes because they are not IV injections. A mountain lion that can jump tall fences and run 30 mph can do a lot of damage in the interim.

Here is an example of how the tranquilizer isn't always effective the first time. This case turned out just fine, but it might not have been that way: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:43 am

I just do not think the people who are criticizing the police here are being objective.

I hate to read about the killing of an animal, or the felling of a tree, but all the people who whiz through these articles and then post something to the effect of anger that we are not handling the environment well - and just limiting their outrage and criticism to events are this are wrong-headed in my opinion.

When we insist of reducing the mountain lion habitat then this is the consequence.

If you do not want mountain lions shot instead of raising hell after the fact and pretending you care about the environment, you should have been doing something about all the land in the hills that is being converted to use for the big houses for all our non-tax-paying super-rich people.

Oh, it's understandable because those who want their own big ego-trip houses in the hills will do whatever they have to and spend whatever they have to, so there is probably no other alternative, but why we all do not understand that what this does is to make the number of mountain lions that end up in human space larger.

When the number of mountain lions in human space becomes larger so is the probability that one of these encroachments is going to end badly for a human, child or pet. It is inevitable, and the events that brought it about were not managed well by anyone in any of our systems - political, development, economic, public, citizens, etc.

We will have to kill more mountain lions and whatever else comes down from the hills - and complaining about how mean it is is simply wrong-headed and an immature expression of frustration that our system is so corrupt and inefficient that good decisions are bypassed or hidden because people want their status symbols. The ultimate cause of this boils down to the classful status society that we have really developed into in the last 30 years, also led to the disaparity in income, the hatred of paying taxes and anything else public.

No one is really putting all of this together sensibly, it is much easier to complain about a mountain lion and expect fairy tale solutions from the Police that are not so easy when they are trying to protect all of us with as much assurance as possible from a harmful run-in with the natural environment - that we have all brought about by our unthinking ways.

Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Again, it is very disturbing that this majestic mountain lion had to be shot and killed instead of detained with a stun device. Is the excuse that the officials didn't have one available again, like the last lion that was killed in Palo Alto? This is not acceptable at all! We have to be more civilized then this folks. Please support making sure that all law enforcement are properly equipped with stun devices for animals. This is their home too and they should be treated with respect when they cross into human inhabited areas by mistake. After all, they can't read the Keep Out signs ...

Like this comment
Posted by Outta Control Dept.
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:16 pm

What reason did police have for not tasing the animal, just like they do all the rest of the "Bad Boys" in San Mateo County when they get out of control??? (Seems to work good on them.............................)

Like this comment
Posted by D-money
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 7, 2011 at 8:37 am

Hope they shot it between it's soulful little eyes. You people need to calm down.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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