Palo Alto, CA – Police received two reports of mountain lion sightings in the suburban portion of Palo Alto last night. Officers checked the area but did not locate the animals.
On Saturday, February 3, 2018 at about 8:10 p.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call from a resident in the 600 block of Wildwood Lane. She reported that as she had been driving back to her home, she saw a large animal in the street in front of her house. Based on its size, she initially thought it was a dog. As she drove closer, though, and her vehicle apparently startled it, the animal ran away and jumped over the fence into her backyard. She then realized it had been a mountain lion. She called police, and officers checked the area extensively but could not locate the animal. This area is approximately three blocks from San Francisquito Creek.
At about 11:36 p.m., we received another call of a lion sighting, this time in the 700 block of Sutter Avenue. The reporting party, who had been out for a walk, told police she had seen a large mountain lion walking down the street away from her, about 75 feet away. The animal did not display any aggressive behavior and disappeared. She called police, and again officers checked the area extensively without success. This area is immediately adjacent to Matadero Creek.
The two sighting locations are approximately one and a half miles from one another. While the descriptions of both animals were roughly similar (the size of a large dog), there is no way to be certain if this was the same lion viewed twice, or two separate lions.
Police increased patrols in both neighborhoods overnight, and have remained in the neighborhoods thus far today. There have been no additional sightings reported to police. Officers have notified our animal control officers from Palo Alto Animal Services and our park rangers from Palo Alto Open Space. Police have also given a courtesy notice to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Our goal with any mountain lion sighting in town is to provide for the safety of our residents and the safety of the animal, and to safely extricate them from our neighborhood and return them to open space.
The last reported mountain lion sighting in the suburban part of Palo Alto occurred in August 2017, when a resident reported seeing an adult and kitten in a large tree in the area of the 1700 block of Webster Street at 6:20 a.m. As that was a school day, and as the sighting occurred immediately prior to the school commute beginning in area where several schools were nearby, we maintained a heavy police presence all day and enlisted the help of animal control officers and park rangers to ensure the safety of the public and the animals. In the end, despite a lengthy search, the animals were never seen again.
If you see a mountain lion in Palo Alto, please call 9-1-1 immediately and stay away from them. For more safety tips on mountain lions, including detailed instructions on what to do if you encounter one, please see https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/pol/as/wildlife/mlions.asp.
Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to email@example.com or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.