Mountain lion spotted near Oakland homes

A big cat has been spotted by multiple neighbors in an Oakland community just west of Highway 13 this week. 

Susan Schroeder told KTVU that on Sunday, her camera captured a puma walking up to her front door and purring before strutting away. She lives in Ridgemont in Oakland

Early Tuesday morning, Scott Whitten said his camera caught a mountain lion walking across his backyard in Redwood Heights. Just minutes later after 6 a.m., Andrea Rezzonico’s outdoor camera caught the same cat.

"I sent a picture to my neighbor, and they looked at their camera, and they had a picture of it also," said Rezzonico, who was awoken by her motion-detection spotlight. "I was standing there probably right about the time he was walking by the backdoor. Its tail was impressive."

Others in the neighborhood told KTVU they were not scared, just shocked. 

"I’ve lived here since 1978," said Rezzonico. "I’ve never seen a mountain lion before."

Alys Granados, a wildlife ecologist with the Felidae Conservation Fund, said confirmed sightings are usually rare, especially in such a dense community. However, people are not in danger just because they see one. The last fatal attack from a puma in the Bay Area was in 1909. 

Statewide, there have been four fatal incidents around the turn of the previous century, according to California Fish and Wildlife.


"People are more likely to be in danger to be attacked by a dog or even struck by lightning," she said.

The Bay Area Puma Project uses over 100 field cameras across the Bay to track wild cats. Since the start of the year, there have been 102 confirmed puma sightings. 74 of those sightings have been in San Mateo County. Alameda County has only five confirmed sightings, which does not explain the mountain lions spotted throughout the week. 

Another was spotted by Loren Williams’ camera on Wednesday around midnight in the Lincoln Highlands neighborhood of Oakland. It can be seen in the video right before walking out of frame and jumping over a gate next to the house.

Either way, ecologists and officials say if you see one, stay away and keep animals and small children indoors. 

"Even though they prefer things like mule deer, they are opportunistic, so if they see a small animal like that it’s kind of an easy meal," said Granados.

Rezzonico said she plans to pay more attention when letting her dog out at dusk or dawn when the mountain lions are likely to be spotted. 

"[This time], my neighbors had just opened their doggy door, and they said luckily the dogs didn’t go out," she said.

Mountain lions are usually alone and don’t typically travel in packs unless they are mating for a couple of days, or when a mother is still nursing her cubs. Anyone who sees a wild animal is advised to stay away and report it to authorities.

Normally, the more humans urbanize, the more we push these animals out of their natural habitat. In this case, ecologists at the Felidae Conservation Fund said based on years of data and previous tracking, this puma probably doesn’t live in the area. It’s likely just passing through. 

Ecologists at the East Bay Puma Project are following up with the people who spotted the big cat in this neighborhood and will continue to track its movements.