Why did the cougar climb the pole?

A cougar captivated a high desert town when it scurried up a 35-foot power pole earlier this week.

A cougar captivated a high desert town when it scurried up a 35-foot power pole earlier this week.

(Peter Day / Victor Valley Daily Press)

Cats climbing stuff is hardly worth mentioning. But a cougar up a power pole? Now that’s impressive.

On Tuesday, a couple miles away from Cougar Buttes (a real place) in Lucerne Valley, a cougar clawed and clung its way to a perch typically reserved for birds and other winged creatures.

“Strange that it was a utility pole,” Andrew Hughan of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife wrote to the Los Angeles Times about the climbing cougar, also commonly called mountain lions in Southern California. “No one can recall seeing a lion like that.”

And why did the cougar run up the pole? To flee a busload of screaming kids after school, apparently. The Associated Press reported that the cat got spooked by the excited kids. And there atop a 35-foot-high wooden pole it stayed all Tuesday afternoon, navigating high-voltage wires.


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While the human onlookers near the power pole were astonished and entranced, several displaced ravens weren’t so amused. They gave the acrophilic cougar what-for, making quite a racket.

“It was funny,” nearby neighbor Jose Ruiz told a reporter from the Daily Press of Victorville. “It was like the one crow was saying, ‘Hey, you’re not a crow.’”

Meanwhile, over 20 miles away, Hesperia animal control officials issued an alert that same afternoon of a cougar sighted in the area of Arrowhead Lake Road. There was some thinking that it might have been the same cat.

The cougar’s high-wire act was a one-day performance. By the next morning, it was gone.

Hughans’ response seems to sum up the reactions across town: “They can climb obviously, but wow!”

Rachel Molina, public information officer for Hesperia animal control, said that if confronted by a cougar or mountain lion, instead of shooting a selfie, people may want to consider using their phone as a phone.

“We always caution residents to remove themselves from the situation and call authorities immediately,” Molina said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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