The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on May 6 successfully captured a young, female mountain lion within the city limits of Alturas, Modoc County, and safely returned the animal to suitable wild habitat.
The healthy yearling female, estimated between 50 to 60 pounds, was darted with a tranquilizer gun after being treed on the edge of the city Thursday morning. The lion was first spotted in Alturas around a chicken coop in a residential backyard Tuesday, May 4 before being scared off. The lion returned to the chicken coop on Wednesday and was spotted elsewhere around the rural community during the day on May 5.
CDFW worked cooperatively with the Alturas Police Department, the Modoc County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in this effort. CDFW does not typically capture and relocate wildlife. CDFW initially pursued the lion to encourage it to leave town on its own. Once treed in a populated area, however, CDFW darted it and physically removed it.
“This is what we consider a ‘no-harm, no-foul’ lion. This particular lion hadn’t caused any harm or any damage. It hadn’t behaved unusually. It tried its best to avoid people,” explained Tina Bartlett, regional manager for CDFW’s Northern Region, which encompasses nine counties in the northernmost part of the state. “This lion likely separated from its mother only recently and is out on its own for the first time trying to make its way in the world and ended up somewhere it shouldn’t be. We see this quite often with young mountain lions in California that end up in populated areas. We’re happy to return this lion to the wild where it belongs.”