There have been no confirmed sightings of a mountain lion spotted on the east side of town since Sunday night, and the Police Department on Tuesday afternoon issued a news release that the cat “is believed to have moved on.”
“We had two unconfirmed reports last night,” Turlock police Sgt. Steve Webb said Tuesday morning. He said authorities in Livingston also received a report that someone saw a mountain lion, also unconfirmed.
Lt. Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife said seven reports of mountain lion sightings came from the Turlock area Monday. Of those, six were dogs. The seventh caller provided video. “It was a possum,” Foy said. He said it’s not unusual for reports to increase after a well-publicized incident such as the one in Turlock.
Local law enforcement and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife have been on the lookout for a mountain lion since reports surfaced of a 90-pound cat in east Turlock on Sunday evening.
Foy said game wardens remain on standby if anyone should report a sighting. Wardens will respond quickly with a gun and tranquilizer darts, in hopes of capturing the lion and returning it to its natural habitat.
However, with a range of up to 200 miles, the cat could have made its own way back by now. “That’s what we hope,” Foy said.
Tuesday, officials with the Turlock Unified School District encouraged parents to continue taking their children to school, or if allowing them to walk, having them go in groups.
The district stressed that the suggestions were made as a precautionary measure. The cat has shown no sign of aggression toward people or animals, authorities said.
“School sites will continue to closely monitor student and staff safety,” the district said in an update to its Facebook page Tuesday.
In replying to a question on The Modesto Bee’s Facebook page, parents expressed varying levels of concern.
“My three kids still walked to the bus stop yesterday and this morning,” Cory Cunningham said. “Yeah, it was a little nerve-wracking, but you can’t put things off or change your life because of an animal that was around long before we were. I’m sure the poor animal was just as scared as some people were.”
Morgan Farmer Eckhardt said before she lets her pets go outside, “we do a perimeter walk with our lion light!”
Monica Canela said she is playing it safe. “I’m taking no chances,” she wrote. “I take and pick up my kids.”
Sandy Berry, whose children and grandson live in Turlock, struck a similar cautious tone. “I’m a little nervous for them. My daughter said she won’t be taking my grandson to the park until the lion is caught.”
Lester Mitchell IV said he is unfazed by the sightings. “I power walk every day around the entire town,” he wrote. “No sightings here, and really don’t feel scared.”
Christina Erbe also is unafraid. “I am not scared at all,” she wrote, adding that her children still play outside. “That cat is running away from everyone. Unless you chase it into a corner and threaten it, then I’d be a little more concerned. ... I’m a little more scared of (drunk) drivers hitting someone than a large cat eluding authorities.”