Mountain lion returned to wild after romp in Bay Area neighborhood

Mountain lion tranquilized after roaming through downtown San Mateo

A mountain lion that roamed downtown San Mateo for hours Monday has been returned to its home about 13 miles away.

The lion was tranquilized and dropped off at the Crystal Springs Reservoir in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains after it had hunkered down in a downtown neighborhood, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“It was the best possible resolution,” he said.

The cat’s visit was unusual because it was the first known time that a mountain lion traveled so far into the city, Hughan said.

Food may have drawn the cat into the city, he said. Mountain lions usually follow the tracks of its food, and in some cases it could lead them into densely populated areas.

The mountain lion was first spotted about 4 a.m. Monday at 9th Avenue. Hours later, it was seen in a nearby neighborhood, then in downtown San Mateo.

San Mateo police worked quickly to cordon off that area while wildlife officials moved in to sedate the cat.

After tranquilizing the mountain lion, wildlife officials drove it the reservoir, where it walked back into its own habitat.

But wildlife officials weren’t able to tag or place a GPS monitor on the cat because it was dark. The animal was healthy and had no issues, wildlife officials said.

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