Breaking: Authorities Kill Mountain Lion in Redwood City Backyard

Large cat posed a threat to residents' safety, officials said.

Updated 2:28 p.m.

A mountain lion that wandered into a Redwood City neighborhood this morning has been shot and killed by authorities as it posed a risk to people's safety, officials said.

The 110-pound cat was spotted about 8:15 a.m. near Alameda de las Pulgas and Whipple Avenue, near Sequoia Hospital.

Police responded and set up a perimeter, trapping the mountain lion in the backyard of a home at 2515 Whipple Ave. near Hillview Avenue, Redwood City spokesman Malcolm Smith said.

Officers notified nearby residents about the situation, and an automated phone call went out to about 600 neighbors telling them to stay inside, he said.

Authorities said they did not have a good enough aim to tranquilize the mountain lion. Because it was hissing at police, the animal posed a threat, they said.

"They had little choice," said Wally Oliver, who owns the home whose backyard the mountain lion crept into.

"Tranquilizers can take up to 10 or 15 minutes or more to take effect, and the prospect of the animal reacting violently to the dart and escaping the perimeter presented an unacceptable risk to the residents of the neighborhood," Smith said in a statement.

Cherie Oliver, the other residence owner, said she believed the city responded in the most appropriate and quickest way possible.

A game warden with the state Department of Fish and Game shot the lion twice with an  M1A1 rifle.

Because of the given situation, authorities had to consider the safety of the residents in the neighborhood, said Lt. Todd Tajari of the Department of Fish and Game.

The body was placed in a bag and escorted away in a Department of Fish and Wildlife truck.

"We have a hot tub in our backyard, and I'll think twice anytime I'm in there and hear a rustle in the leaves," Cherie Oliver said.


Correction: Lt. Todd Tajari originally estimated the weight of the animal to be 150 pounds.

Anjessello March 30, 2011 at 08:03 PM
I'm with Janet!
LP March 30, 2011 at 09:14 PM
All you fricken animal lovers must not have young children that you think of first. My fatherly instinct would of never even waited for the hisss, shoot immedialtly and protect our children!!! not even a question!!!
Jay March 30, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Mahatma Ghandi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Debbie Licolli March 30, 2011 at 09:21 PM
I saw this animal at 5:10 am yesterday morning running south on Birch Street from Whipple I immediately called 911. He was trying to find his way back "home" if he was found back up the Alameda. It was 3 hours from my sighting that more sightings were made. He was out for hours and did not hurt anyone.It just makes me so sad that he was killed.
LP March 30, 2011 at 09:34 PM
What if a young kid was out their and got scared ran and screamed...I think that damn lion would attack that child and it would be poor kid not poor lion. This was not plain ignorance..a small cat maybe, a wild lion...good move.
meg thatcher March 31, 2011 at 01:48 AM
Great points Cici. Based on some of these comments, I would have to agree with you.
JDavis March 31, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Needless to say this is a very(!) heated, emotionally charged debate. This was a sad situation to say the least, but it is also now history and cannot be changed. As a mother of two AND having previously lived in an area where a mountain lion had a den on my property, I see both sides. I appreciate the value of human life as well as that of the animal's. Bottom line is that none of us know what could have happened had it been handled differently. With that said, in my heart of hearts I truly would have liked there to have been a more humane end to this tragedy. So much brainpower, money, and resources in this area that it's difficult to comprehend why there couldn't have been a better outcome...such a binary and final solution.
Cy Young award March 31, 2011 at 03:59 AM
We pay for the evil criminals to live in jails for the rest of their lives, criminals who are a detriment to society and some whom have killed. It should be the other way around. A hungry lion should be taken care of and the criminals should roam around for law enforcement and Fish and Game to practice their capturing techniques.
Linda March 31, 2011 at 06:38 AM
I live only a few blocks from where the animal was found....and I have a 2 year old. As far as I'm concerned, whether you have 2 legs, or 4, if you have intent to hurt me or my family, or my neighbors for that matter, I'd shoot you myself. The Fish and Game Dept cant win. If they shoot first, they are wrong. If the animal kills a toddler first, then they didnt move fast enough. No win for them. I love animals, love my own pet....but, if it's endangering the lives of human beings, I dont want someone to ponder what to do......just shoot the damn thing. Sorry, but I dont want my toddler to be on the news, over some cat. Period. End of story.
Mecala March 31, 2011 at 07:33 PM
I agree completely with what Linda (above) just said. The FGD will be criticized no matter what they choose to do, unless all their decisions are guaranteed to always result in a perfect "everyone is happy" outcome. Is it realistic to expect that the FGD will ALWAYS be able to make a decision that leaves us with the perfect outcome? Of course not. Had the FGD successfully been able to tranquilized the lion and move it to a safe location, we'd all be singing their praises. We all wish that had been the case. I'm sure the FGD and all the authorities involved were saddened when ultimately the decision was made to kill the animal. Some of the posters above make it sound like the authorities were excited to have an opportunity for target practice with this animal. Come on now. Do you really believe that? Be reasonable. We are all sickened that the poor animal had to perish, but remember folks, there were a lot of CRITICAL, DIFFICULT variables the FGD had to consider with this particular incident. For us to judge them is unfair. Unless you were right there and privy to all knowledge of the situation, then you are in no position to judge the individuals involved in Tuesday's actions. We need to trust that the trained authorities made the best decision possible with the circumstances they were faced with.
Jay March 31, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Oh please. No one is perfect, no one argument will make everyone agreeable to it either; it is the level of competence, leadership, education and skill in situations such as this and 'they' absolutely should be judged for it. And people, toddlers included, have a better chance of being hurt or killed by some other means than an (intended?) attack by a mountain lion. How selfish and self centered are we as a species who think(?) and act without first considering possible outcomes; one being building and moving to sensitive areas that include dangers not just limited to wildlife? Because we can? Because 'they' will take care of me? People who had to see all the sensationalism going on certainly did not help the authorities nor the lion escape with his life either. The school children who stayed in their classrooms behaved better. Since we, the superior race top of the food chain "people" who litter this earth with ever growing population, WE must take better care, including all animals who SHARE this land in a neighborhood near you, including the authorities responsible for handling these situations. But hey, the lion is dead, no one was eaten alive, yaaay for the less be judged authorities, the world local to you is in order once again until the next neighboring wild animal wanders to take a dip in your hot tub with intent to eat you. Meanwhile lets build more houses in this beautiful wide open land of wild animals. Pul-lenty of space!
Dan r March 31, 2011 at 11:28 PM
The level of ignorance displayed by most people posting on this site is depressing. If the police were "looking for an excuse to kill" why did they wait three hours to do so? As for shooting a mountain lion on the move in the event a tranquilizer failed and agitated the animal - how many of you have fired a gun at a fast moving target? It's very hard to hit and much more likely a bystander would be injured. It was sad that the animal had to be killed but under the circumstances there was little choice.
Jay March 31, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Uh Dan? 'They' being the authorities are trained and practiced shooting bullets aimed at the intended target. With the hordes of authorities there in response I would hope at least some are capable. And if the authorities didn't clear away ALL bystanders, well then talk about ignorance with doing their job of placing safety of the people first.
meg thatcher April 01, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Right on Jay! And Dan, you're right too, "the level of ignorance displayed by most people on this site is depressing".
Concerned Taxpayer April 01, 2011 at 04:30 PM
I would like to see the comments if the Mtn Lion had killed a toddler. The level of ignorance displayed here is astonishing.
Jill Staver April 01, 2011 at 05:43 PM
I think that killing this animal was pure ignorance. Claiming that they could only tranquilize it if they had a clear shot is total crap! They had a clear shot to kill it but not tranquilize it?!?!!!!! These gorgeous animals are native to this area, have a right to exsist as we all do. Taking it back to a safe area for the residence safety but aslo for the animals safety would have been the right thing to do. As far as killing a toddler goes...do you leave your toddler unattended?
meg thatcher April 01, 2011 at 05:54 PM
No shortage of "what if's " here! Lot's of fear driven imaginations. Thank God the "killing machine" didn't escape and eat all of the spectators!
Dan r April 01, 2011 at 06:59 PM
There is no point arguing with most of you. All I can say is some of you need to stop getting your life experience from TV and the movies.
Fullomalarky April 02, 2011 at 04:51 AM
Come on Roy, we invaded thier territory. They were here first. Be NICE.
Merrily April 03, 2011 at 04:47 AM
Mahatma Ghandi said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Couldn't said better!
Sarah Yokubaitis April 03, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Wow, there are a lot of strong opinions on this topic. Feel free to chime in on our Question of the Week: What would you do if a mountain lion was in your backyard? http://fostercity.patch.com/articles/question-of-the-week-what-would-you-do-if-a-mountain-lion-was-in-your-backyard
Steve Hayes April 03, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Which of course is why cows roam free in the cities while tigers that get too close to people are killed.
Frances Cuvi April 04, 2011 at 12:12 AM
I think as a community we are inexperienced in these matters and hopefully, with time, we will come up with more effective ways to deal with these types of occurrences that will have a better outcome for all those involved, including the wild animal.
Stacie Chan (Editor) April 04, 2011 at 03:01 AM
Hi Debbie, The time difference between your initial call and the police department's response time is a little concerning. Could you contact me with your account of that morning's events? Thanks, Stacie stacie@patch.com
JDavis April 04, 2011 at 03:37 AM
very well said...thank you Francis Cuvi!
Merrily April 06, 2011 at 02:25 PM
Wednesday April 13th at 7:30pm, Carrington Hall at Sequoia High School. That is the meeting with a panel organized by Felidae Fund - Puma Project! Come and get informed!! :) Let's be better prepared for the next time.
Stacie Chan (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Thanks for the info, Merrily! Patch will definitely be there.
Jay April 12, 2011 at 10:52 PM
LP; Some suggested reading: http://www.cougarfund.org/living/behavior/ Otherwise stay out of lion country. But do your children and wildlife a favor, teach the information in article to your children.
Stacie Chan (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 11:25 PM
For those interested in learning more about the Department of Fish and Game's response protocol, Patch shot a video of a community discussion Wednesday night. View here: http://patch.com/A-gBGV
Ana Lucia Novak April 16, 2011 at 05:42 PM
I am very sad about the killing of the mountain lion. It's a tough situation. I think the helicopters should have been sent away because the noise rattled him. Also mountain lions tend to stay away from humans and they love to roam. He was probably on his way back into the hills and may have been distracted with cars, people etc. Hiding was the only way he could feel safe. But to corner and crowd an animal will cause anxiety, fear aggression. I just wish that they would have taken more time to resolve this before choosing a gun. Send the noise away, get some raw steaks (cant you put some kind of tranq. In the steak?). And exhaust all options.


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