Police warn residents of mountain lion sighting in San Mateo backyard

Police in San Mateo are warning residents about a confirmed mountain lion sighting in a homeowner’s backyard. The big cat was spotted early Wednesday morning on Bucknell Drive.

Fish and Wildlife hope the mountain lion will return back to its natural habitat. Neighbors said they’ve seen different wild life from deer to raccoons but never a mountain lion.

"At midnight, I had heard my neighbor’s dog barking," said Kristen Phillips of San Mateo. "I looked closely at the picture and I noticed it was on my fence."

Phillips was not too concerned when she heard her neighbor’s dog barking in the middle of the night. She was surprised to learn a mountain lion had paid them a midnight visit.

"I was worried about my dog because sometimes he sleeps outside and there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood," said Phillips.

Phillips’s neighbor who she shares a fence with captured the big cat on home surveillance video on Bucknell Drive. Freddy Huynh lives right next door.

"There’s really not much around here other than a quiet neighborhood of homes so it is a little bit surprising that a mountain lion would show up in one of our backyards," said Huynh.

Police said the homeowner saw the mountain lion next to fresh kill a raccoon. It then ran to the top of a fence before taking off. Police were unable to find it.

"We are not dealing with a dog," said Officer Alison Gilmore of San Mateo Police. "We are not dealing with a cat. We are dealing with a mountain lion and mountain lions obviously have the potential to be more violent or aggressive than a house cat."

"Typically when we see mountain lions in a residential area this time of year it’s usually a young male mountain lion," said Ken Paglia of California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

California Department of Fish & Wildlife suspect the lion separated from his mom, took a wrong turn and is looking for food. Raccoons are not their number one choice for food.

"Maybe it’s not that great at hunting deer yet maybe it was hungry and tried to go for something else," said Paglia.

What’s to say that lion won't find a little dog or cat instead? Fish & Wildlife said that does happen but not too often.

"It is dangerous especially in the evenings that’s when I look around," said Bob Lee of San Mateo.

Lee suspects the mountain lion came from a nearby creek or Crystal Springs reservoir.

"It’s normal, I’m scared and a little bit nervous and I just need to be cautious," said Lee.

Police said mountain lions are creatures of habit and may return. Neighbors are keeping a close eye on their small pets and children.

"I think we will keep the dogs inside for a couple nights and hope it rains soon so they can find water and food elsewhere," said Phillips.

Police said don’t feed deer because that will attract mountain lions and do not approach them. Police officers who assigned to the area are aware and extra vigilant.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at azenith.smith@fox.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.