Turlock police asked residents to stay indoors Sunday night as they tracked a mountain lion roaming a residential area on the city’s east side.
Patrol officers first discovered the 90-pound lion at 6 p.m. in an alley between Hawkeye Avenue and Anning Drive, Police Lt. Nino Amirfar said. At 8:50 p.m., searchers checked out a report that the big cat was spotted at Julien Elementary School, but found nothing.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has dogs that can track the lion’s scent, took over the pursuit. At around 9:30 p.m., Fish and Wildlife officials returned to where the cat first was spotted to search for tracks.
At 10:40 p.m., state officials advised local police to break down their perimeter as the search concluded. A state game warden planned to stay in Turlock overnight and into Monday to keep trying to track the mountain lion.
Police dispatchers issued “stay in place” calls to homes in the area of Anning Drive and Johnson Road and Hawkeye and Berkeley Avenues. Earlier, police issued warnings from loudspeakers.
Many residents were out of their homes but returned when asked to by police.
This is believed to be the first confirmed lion sighting in the area this year after other sightings could not be corroborated.
In the last several weeks, a number of reports have surfaced. These include sightings along Dry Creek in Modesto, near the Merced River in Hilmar and in the east Turlock area, where two years ago a lion was found in a tree outside the front door of a home.
The territory of an adult male lion can range up to 200 miles, said Kyle Orr, a spokesman for the state agency, last week. He described them as “elusive and solitary” and said they number from 4,000 to 6,000 throughout California.
Only 14 attacks on people have been recorded since 1986, three of them fatal. The most recent involved a boy near Cupertino early this month. He suffered injuries but was expected to recover, and the lion that attacked him was found and killed.
The state agency has this safety advice:
• Do not hike, bike or jog alone.
• Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active – dawn, dusk and night.
• Keep a close watch on small children.
• Do not approach a lion.
• If you encounter a lion, do not run. Instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms. Throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
• If attacked, fight back.
Check modbee.com for updates on this developing story.