Drugged mountain lion gives California Fish & Wildlife researcher a big surprise
A mountain lion that tangled with a small sedan Monday afternoon near Cambria was euthanized by a California Department of Fish and Wildlife official.
Fish and Wildlife Lt. Todd Tognazzini confirmed the “young-of- the-year” female sustained multiple fractures of a hind leg in the collision; she also was bleeding through the nose and appeared to be in pain, mortal wounds that led to the decision to euthanize the animal, he said.
CHP also responded to the call, but officials there weren’t available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Tognazzini said the woman driver struck the lion with her car on upper Santa Rosa Creek Road between Cypress Mountain Road and Highway 46. He didn’t have details about the driver or her vehicle, but apparently the lion was trapped under the car for a while.
The woman said she tried swerving to miss the animal but didn’t succeed, leading Tognazzini to suspect the lion entered the road quickly from a nearby patch of high grass.
Another motorist who happened on the scene alerted various ranchers in the area. They called 911, as the driver had, but they were unable to do anything more, according to nearby rancher Steve Soto.
“None of us could do anything” safely to help the badly wounded lion, Soto said.
By the time Tognazzini arrived, the woman had moved the car, and the lion had headed up a hill. He tracked and located the animal, which had collapsed a short distance away. After determining the severity of the wounds and the animal’s condition, Tognazzini opted to euthanize it.
He said it’s the second “road-killed” mountain lion reported this year in the county. A young male lion was hit and killed two weeks ago on Highway 101 south of Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo. That animal apparently died immediately after being struck.
Tognazzini said residents and visitors need to know that this county is mountain lion country, and that wherever there are herds of deer and other prey, hungry lions likely are nearby.
He said “it’s highly unusual to see a lion out moving around at 3:30 in the afternoon.”
But it does happen, he said, so when you’re in an area where mountain lions could be, “drive with caution. If you’re out in their territory, be aware. If you see a mountain lion, don’t turn and run. Make yourself look big, pick up a stick, make a lot of noise.”