A mountain lion was captured early Thursday just hours after police warned residents about the big cat in a Simi Valley neighborhood.
The sightings came about a week after a miniature Schnauzer was killed by a mountain lion in the community northwest of Los Angeles. The captured mountain lion is not the same animal in last week's attack, authorities said.
That mountain lion was wearing a tracking collar used by the National Park Service to study the animals as they roam Southern California. The mountain lion captured Thursday did not appear to be wearing a tracking collar, used by researchers to study the animals.
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The 100-pound male mountain lion spotted Thursday was tranquilized and loaded into a pickup for removal from the area. It will be asleep for a few hours as authorities return the animal to the wilderness.
Police and agents with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to the neighborhood early Thursday. The initial sighting was reported in the area of Belburn Place, Broadmoor Avenue and Bancock Street. Police issued a warning to residents with pets early Thursday.
About 90 minutes later, the big cat was captured in resident Rick Robledo's backyard in the 2700 block of Broadmoor Avenue.
"I have little kids," Robledo said. "Had this been maybe an hour or two later, they might have gone outside. It could have been bad."
The mountain lion population is high in California, relative to other parts of the United States. Density estimates vary, but the figure might be as high as 10 lions per 100 square miles. By that estimate, the population is somewhere between 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions statewide.
But it's difficult to say whether that population is increasing or decreasing without an ongoing statewide study.
One thing is certain — mountain lions go where they can find food, primarily deer. That sometimes brings them into urban areas, like Simi Valley, but it should be noted that a person is 1,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There have been only 16 verified mountain lion attacks in California since 1890, six of which were fatal, according to the agency.
The department receives hundreds of reports each year about mountain lions killing pets and livestock.
Mountain lions are a specially protected species in California under the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990, approved as Prop 117 by California voters. The classification has nothing to do with mountain lion numbers in California, but its passage made it illegal to hunt the big cats.