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.