A mountain lion lounging near an office complex in an East Bay suburb was tranquilized and released into the wild early Tuesday morning.
Landscapers called the Pleasanton Police Department about 2 p.m. Monday when they came across the big cat hanging out in some bushes between a building’s parking lot and a busy street, Lt. Kurt Schlehuber said.
“He put his head up, looked at them and put his head right back down,” Schlehuber said.
Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were called to assist. Clint Garrett, a patrol lieutenant with the agency, said the young cat’s hiding in the brush was not unusual — although its location was not ideal.
“I think he felt safe in the bushes and did not want to come out, which would be normal for an animal,” Garrett said.
Officials initially thought the cougar might have been struck by a car because it sat for hours in the same spot, despite being surrounded by activity, said Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Police and wildlife officials were concerned that rush-hour traffic would put the mountain lion’s life in danger and decided to tranquilize the animal.
A drone with a thermal imaging camera from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office was on standby to track the young cat if it didn’t fully succumb to the tranquilizer darts and ran off.
“That was an interesting use of the technology,” Schlehuber said, adding that the drones typically have been used for search warrants, fires and other incidents that benefit from aerial imaging.
Foy said efforts to relocate captured cougars don’t always go as well as Monday’s move.
Earlier this month, a 4-month-old cub that wandered into a Pollock Pines, Calif., bakery was euthanized after veterinarians found it was too unhealthy to return to its habitat. The animal was dehydrated, underweight and in need of too much intensive medical care to be rehabilitated, said Deana Clifford, a Fish and Wildlife Department spokeswoman.
This time, though, the young mountain lion was healthy enough to go home. It was taken to the Sunol Regional Wilderness in Alameda County around 9:30 p.m. Monday and after a long cat nap ran off into the wild, Garrett said.