Mountain lion tranquilized in Los Gatos, returned to the wild

A mountain lion that spent two days in a Los Gatos backyard was tranquilized and released into the mountains by wildlife officials on Wednesday.

The 80-pound female cat sat quietly and appeared comfortable since Tuesday evening, amid the rain and wind from the latest atmospheric river storm.

"I looked outside and saw what I thought was a pillow in a tree or a rug that had blown into my tree," Tiffany Frye said. "I thought it was my neighbors and went out to retrieve the rug or pillow and realized that’s a giant wild animal!"

Neighbors named the mountain lion Nala, and said it mostly stayed perched on a shared backyard fence near Roberts and Blossom Hill roads.

Neighbors began calling and texting one another and soon Los Gatos police and California Fish and Wildlife arrived to check on the big cat.

The animal was not aggressive, so it was not pursued during the storm.

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"We thought it’s going to get dark soon so let’s see if it moved out on its own," Senior Environmental Supervisor John Krause said. "That was the best scenario, but it was still here this morning."

Neighbors were initially told to keep quiet and not to go outside. There are also two schools nearby worrying parents Wednesday morning that the big cat could pose a danger to children who walk to school.

"We started looking through the windows because my biggest concern was the kids," mother Jasleen Dhillon said. "They were just excited. They were like, it’s National Geographic in our backyard."

State wildlife officials moved in just before noon and used a dart to tranquilize the animal.

They could be seen examining the big cat as it lay on the ground of the residential property near Vasonia Park.

It was loaded into a cage and then a pick-up truck before it was returned to the wild.

"It just popped up in the wrong spot during the storm," Krause said. "It hunkered down."

It’s estimated the mountain lion is between two and three years old. She appeared healthy, officials said.

It comes as a relief to those who live nearby, despite enjoying the excitement.

"I woke up every few hours and checked on Nala," Frye said. "I kept saying, ‘I’m happy to host you, but please never come back.’"

Brooks Jarosz is a reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU