News

Two mountain lion sightings reported in Palo Alto

Big cats seen wandering neighborhoods on Saturday night

Mountain lions were spotted roaming Palo Alto's residential streets in two separate incidents on Saturday night, Palo Alto police said in a press release.

Police received the first of two calls on Feb. 3 at 10:10 p.m. after a resident spotted the animal in the 600 block of Wildwood Lane. The woman had been driving to her home when she saw a large animal in the street in front of her house. Based on its size, she initially thought it was a dog, police said. As she drove closer, her vehicle startled the animal, which ran away and jumped over the fence into her backyard. At that point, she realized she had seen a mountain lion.

Officers checked the area extensively but could not locate the cat. This area is approximately three blocks from San Francisquito Creek, police said.

At about 11:36 p.m., police received another call of a lion sighting, this time in the 700 block of Sutter Avenue. A woman who had been out for a walk had seen a large mountain lion walking down the street away from her, about 75 feet away. The lion did not display any aggressive behavior and disappeared. She called police and officers checked the area extensively without success. The area is immediately adjacent to Matadero Creek, police said.

The two sighting locations are approximately 1 1/2 miles from one another. While the descriptions of both animals were roughly similar, there is no way to be certain if the same lion was viewed twice or if there were two separate lions, police said.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

The department increased patrols in both neighborhoods overnight, and officers have remained in the neighborhoods throughout Sunday, the department said. Police have not received calls of any additional sightings. The department has notified animal control officers from Palo Alto Animal Services, Palo Alto Open Space park rangers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Our goal with any mountain lion sighting in town is to provide for the safety of our residents and the safety of the animal, and to safely extricate them from our neighborhood and return them to open space," the department said in a statement.

The last reported mountain lion sighting in the suburban part of Palo Alto occurred in August. A resident reported seeing an adult and kitten in a large tree in the area of the 1700 block of Webster Street at 6:20 a.m. Police, animal control and park rangers kept up a heavy presence and searched the area since the sighting occurred just before the school commute began. The animals were not spotted again.

On Jan. 20, a young female coyote was seen by dog walkers in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood in the 100 block of Rinconada Avenue. Police officers attempted to corral the animal, who ended up walking through neighborhood streets and headed to the Caltrain tracks, where they lost sight of her.

If one encounters a mountain lion, police ask the public to call 911 immediately and stay away from the animal. More safety tips on mountain lions, including detailed instructions on what to do when encountering one, is available here.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Two mountain lion sightings reported in Palo Alto

Big cats seen wandering neighborhoods on Saturday night

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 3:32 pm
Updated: Sun, Feb 4, 2018, 4:29 pm

Mountain lions were spotted roaming Palo Alto's residential streets in two separate incidents on Saturday night, Palo Alto police said in a press release.

Police received the first of two calls on Feb. 3 at 10:10 p.m. after a resident spotted the animal in the 600 block of Wildwood Lane. The woman had been driving to her home when she saw a large animal in the street in front of her house. Based on its size, she initially thought it was a dog, police said. As she drove closer, her vehicle startled the animal, which ran away and jumped over the fence into her backyard. At that point, she realized she had seen a mountain lion.

Officers checked the area extensively but could not locate the cat. This area is approximately three blocks from San Francisquito Creek, police said.

At about 11:36 p.m., police received another call of a lion sighting, this time in the 700 block of Sutter Avenue. A woman who had been out for a walk had seen a large mountain lion walking down the street away from her, about 75 feet away. The lion did not display any aggressive behavior and disappeared. She called police and officers checked the area extensively without success. The area is immediately adjacent to Matadero Creek, police said.

The two sighting locations are approximately 1 1/2 miles from one another. While the descriptions of both animals were roughly similar, there is no way to be certain if the same lion was viewed twice or if there were two separate lions, police said.

The department increased patrols in both neighborhoods overnight, and officers have remained in the neighborhoods throughout Sunday, the department said. Police have not received calls of any additional sightings. The department has notified animal control officers from Palo Alto Animal Services, Palo Alto Open Space park rangers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

"Our goal with any mountain lion sighting in town is to provide for the safety of our residents and the safety of the animal, and to safely extricate them from our neighborhood and return them to open space," the department said in a statement.

The last reported mountain lion sighting in the suburban part of Palo Alto occurred in August. A resident reported seeing an adult and kitten in a large tree in the area of the 1700 block of Webster Street at 6:20 a.m. Police, animal control and park rangers kept up a heavy presence and searched the area since the sighting occurred just before the school commute began. The animals were not spotted again.

On Jan. 20, a young female coyote was seen by dog walkers in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood in the 100 block of Rinconada Avenue. Police officers attempted to corral the animal, who ended up walking through neighborhood streets and headed to the Caltrain tracks, where they lost sight of her.

If one encounters a mountain lion, police ask the public to call 911 immediately and stay away from the animal. More safety tips on mountain lions, including detailed instructions on what to do when encountering one, is available here.

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the Palo Alto Police Department 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

Comments

John
Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:07 am
John, Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:07 am

As a long time Palo Alto resident and Hills "solo" cyclist, I will look for organized groups rides that go up "Skyline" similar to the ones organized by the Los Altos Bike Store that used to "org" one every Sunday morning.
I hope they still "exist".
John


They walk the creeks
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:10 am
They walk the creeks, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:10 am

I regularly see deer in the San Fransiquito creek bed. I know lions have been seen in the past in and around the creek bed, likely following the deer or just investigating. Some people live in bear country. We live in mountain lion country :) Adjust your behaviors accordingly if you were unaware of this.


Joe
Community Center
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:13 am
Joe, Community Center
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:13 am

If the sightings are true, what could happen?

The best case is "happy live together." bla, bla, bla...

The worst case could be "one of our kids were picked up." ...

Question. Is it a public safety enhancer or a threat?


Andy
Gunn High School
on Feb 5, 2018 at 12:09 pm
Andy, Gunn High School
on Feb 5, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Sometimes I see a pair of coyotes while walking on Matadero trail. Even made pictures of them.


David
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 1:02 pm
David, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2018 at 1:02 pm

In May of 2014, a collared lion hung out in Mountain View near Rengstorff Park for several days un-noticed. Maybe it only came out of hiding when thirsty and hungry. The same could happen in tranquil Palo Alto. The puma project only has a handful of collard cats.


Welcome to nature
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2018 at 2:04 pm
Welcome to nature, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 5, 2018 at 2:04 pm

I think it's really great to be so close to such a wild area(West of 280). It's like living outside a National Park!

When I lived outside Bozeman MT, we all knew we lived in bear country and made the simple changes needed to live safely around bears. Even so, there were community efforts to remind people about the do's and don'ts.
It would be good to see that sort of education here in mtn lion country.


Cur Mudgeon
Greenmeadow
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm
Cur Mudgeon, Greenmeadow
on Feb 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Several years ago, we found the lower leg of a deer on the valley floor at Foothills Park near the creek. The wild game uses the creek beds in town for roadways. Be aware if you live near such an area.


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Feb 5, 2018 at 6:02 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 5, 2018 at 6:02 pm

There's a skunk somewhere in town that stinks up much of Midtown Palo Alto almost every night. I hope that this mountain lion enjoys a quick but pungent snack before retreating back to the other side of I-280.

;-)


skunk
College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:39 pm
skunk, College Terrace
on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:39 pm

Nayeli, the "skunk" is most likely the scent of pot smoking. You'll notice a similar odor is quite prevalent in SF


Donster
University South
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:24 am
Donster, University South
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:24 am

There is the skunk bid my pothead neighbor smokes, but also skunks downtown. The skunks can can be seen running across the street at night. The biggest threat from skunks is rabies, not their nasty smell. Definitely a critter best avoided.


A Noun Ea Mus
Professorville
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:19 am
A Noun Ea Mus, Professorville
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:19 am

My 2 cents on this. I welcome them BUT also they need to fear us. That Mountain Lion that chased a small dog and went into a house up in La Honda area a while back---it should have been terrified of the very thought of entering a human's abode. If you see one in the neighborhood maybe throw rocks at it, better yet imitate Beavis and pull your shirt up over your head and run at it screaming "I am Cornholio! Are you threatening me? I will chase you back to Lake Titicaca!", etc. And that's if you live up in the hills. If they are coming into long term established residential areas this isn't because of the tired trope "we've driven them out of their areas so they're coming into ours". No, the deer population is expanding and coming in for the buffet we provide. Mountain Lions then also reproduce more and expand their territory to backfill ours as they follow the deer, the ducks, the geese, etc. Sometimes keeping them scared might mean killing them that have been driven out of rural areas. Word will then spread among them.


Nothing to see here
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:57 am
Nothing to see here, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:57 am

I think we kill one every now and again. Recent studies have shown them avoiding areas with humans. Once in a great while one wanders into an area because it seems "human free", but the reason they never hang around is because they have the fear of humans. This story is simply an interesting article, and shouldn't be a call to change actions, just be aware that lions and coyotes can and do venture into our areas at night. Skunks and raccoons do also.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:54 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:54 am

Usually, the Mountain Lions that end up down the creeks in the flats of Palo Alto are juveniles who are there because of the mountain lion "land-tenure system", AKA, "territoriality".

"Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are thought to regulate their populations via social behavior. The proposed mechanism is a land-tenure system that results in exclusion of individuals from the population through territoriality and temporal avoidance."

(Web Link

What it "means" is that the population is stable in Santa Cruz Mountains and foothills, and, hungry lions, usually juveniles, wander. It is normal. If disturbing at times:

Web Link


resident
Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2018 at 9:03 pm
resident, Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 6, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Yes - definitely skunks in the area. One comes into my yard at night and digs around looking for grubs. I have newspapers delivered early in the morning and that gets them on the move if they are in the area. Between 3 - 5 am there is a lot of animal traffic out there - possum on the fence. It is coming spring time and valentines day for all creatures who are looking for friends.


Mike Alexander
St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm
Mike Alexander, St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm

@Donster ... If you're worried about lions, you may want to keep a pet skunk. Watch: Web Link


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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