Mountain lion caught in backyard after wandering through Sacramento neighborhood

Residents in a quiet Sacramento neighborhood got the shock of a lifetime when an unwelcome visitor showed up on their doorstep.

Police officers and animal control rushed to a street in Natomas, in northwestern Sacramento, where they found a mountain lion in a backyard.
"The officer yelled, 'He's on the loose, get in your house quickly!'" Amy Nunez recalled hearing as the chaos unfolded. 

Neighbors heeded the alert and rushed to find shelter in their homes and cars. Officers then took the opportunity to shoot the lion with a tranquilizer.

But instead of falling unconscious, the cougar took off, jumping over fences and running through back yards.

"It could be that it just wasn't enough. It could be that it bounced off of the hide. They have a pretty thick hide. It's hard to say," explained Jace Huggins, Chief Animal Control Officer for the city of Sacramento.

Bonnie Garvey looked out her window and spotted the lion in her backyard, where animal control officers managed to catch up with the animal and tried to tranquilize it again.

"It was very surreal. It just looked like it didn't belong... The cat looked like it was in fear," Garvey said.

Second time was charm. The tranquilizer took effect and officers were able to safely take the mountain lion out of the area.

"Most likely he is looking for a new territory to call his own. This isn't going to be it, obviously," said Huggins.

The animal control officer said the big cat looks pretty healthy, so he'll most likely be released back into a more suitable environment, a wildlife area where he belongs.

It was a tense scene for residents, but with all's well that ends well, spectators said they're grateful they got to witness the up-close and first-hand encounter with mother nature.

"It was actually just an honor to experience it," Garvey said. "It's a beautiful cat. With everyone being safe and it safely ending, I can say it's an honor."