Mountain lion shot and killed in homeowner's yard near Turlock, July 22, 2012
TURLOCK, CA - An 80-pound female mountain lion was shot and killed after roaming through the back yard of a home on the 5000 block of E. Linwood Avenue in Turlock.
Tami Mendonca was home alone at the time. She heard a loud noise and then saw her back door was nearly off its hinges. Mendonca thought someone kicked open the door and broke in the house.
"All I could think of was defending myself," Mendonca said. "I went into the garage, and we just happen to have machete in the garage. I grabbed the machete and dialed 911."
A Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy quickly arrived at her house, checked the back door and cleared the home with a police K9. An intruder was never located until Mendonca's black labs began barking at the tree in her front yard.
The mountain lion was perched on the lowest branch, more than 15 feet above the ground.
The deputy called officials with the Department of Fish and Game. Deputy Raj Singh said the deputy was told to kill the cat if it attempted to leave the tree.
A few minutes before Fish and Game officials arrived, deputies said the mountain lion attempted to climb out of the tree. It was shot more than once and killed.
Statement from sheriff's department:
California Fish and Game Warden's advised us that they have been investigation reports of the Mountain Lion over the past month and were enroute to assist Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputies with Mountain Lion at the house on Linwood Avenue. The Warden's advised sheriff's deputies that if the Mountain Lion began to come down from the tree, they should consider the dispatching (killing) the animal as it posed a immediate threat to an area populated by humans and domestic animals. Deputies were force dispatch the animal as it started coming down from the tree before the fish and game warden's arrived on scene.
"I don't think anybody would have wanted that outcome," Mendonca said. "Yes, she was a beautiful animal. But, safety is more important than a beautiful wild animal running loose in a neighborhood full of kids and livestock. We just can't do it. It was unfortunate, but it was necessary."
The mountain lion is being tested for rabies and being checked to see if it may have had been nursing cubs that could still be in the area. Officials said the cat was at least a half an hour drive away from its natural habitat in the foothills. They don't know why it strayed in to the residential area.
There have been only 15 documented attacks on humans by mountain lions since 1890, with six fatalities.
Most people, even those who spend time in wildland areas, will never see the normally reclusive big cats.
Fish and Game officials said they are not sure why there has been an uptick in sightings of the animals in recent months, with three in the last month, including a man who was attacked by a big cat in his sleeping bag near Nevada City on July 3rd, and a woman who had a mountain lion jump onto her roof and deck at her home in Foresthill a couple of days later.