The animal a golfer spotted earlier this week in Mission Valley was probably not a mountain lion but a smaller, "much less ferocious" bobcat, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Fish and Game said Friday.
Spokeswoman Ginny Boas said that, after a thorough investigation near a fairway of the Stardust Country Club golf course, fish and game agents had "determined that the animal in question is a bobcat. Or rather, let's say, because of the footprints and the markings, we suspect that the animal was a bobcat."
Bill Robinson, a spokeswoman for the San Diego Police Department, said the golfer called police after he thought he had seen "a small mountain lion" during a morning round of golf on the course near Hotel Circle South.
"We dispatched officers and a helicopter but had no luck in finding the animal," Robinson said. "The golfer indicated the cat had gone into a large drainage pipe that runs adjacent to the course. Fish and game then took over the investigation."
Both the State Department of Fish and Game and the San Diego County Department of Animal Control determined that a mountain lion was loose in a Tierrasanta neighborhood in early October. Residents on Mission Village Drive near San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium have claimed to have seen one, and investigators agreed that the tracks--3 1/2 inches in diameter--as well as the signs left behind, indicated they were right. The animal is believed to have killed a house cat belonging to a couple on the street.
On the morning of Sept. 27, civil engineer Peter J. Pountney told police he had seen two mountain lions near his office on Murphy Canyon Road near Balboa Avenue. Each of the recent sightings--whether of bobcats or mountain lions--has occurred in roughly the same area, near or in Mission Valley.
Lt. Ken Maehler of the fish and game department said mountain lions and bobcats are common in and around Julian and Descanso--the more mountainous areas of the county--and come down to the city after unusually dry weather, which San Diego has had most of this year.