Mountain lion captured near Rohnert Park schools suffers from ‘neurological disorder’


A mountain lion who was surrounded by Rohnert Park police on Monday morning after being discovered about three football pitches from his home is undergoing a medical assessment which will likely last a few days.

The 5-year-old’s weight, which is normally around 80 pounds, has dropped by about 25% to 30%, said Dr Dan Famini, a veterinarian with Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, a nonprofit in the south. -west of Rohnert Park, where she was finally picked up on Monday. He added that she also appeared lethargic and dehydrated.

The big cat was spotted just before 8 a.m. in the bed of a dry creek near the junction of the Five Creek and Crane Creek trails – an area where pumas might be expected, according to Famini.

“The general public would be surprised at the amount of wildlife we ​​live with on a regular basis,” he said.

As a precaution, authorities ordered two nearby schools to close pending the departure of the animal.

But she didn’t.

Police called California Fish and Wildlife officials for help. Quinton Martins, a big cat biologist, also responded.

Martins runs the Living With Lions Project at Audubon Canyon Ranch, which tracks big cats in North Bay. He immediately recognized the animal as P26, affectionately known as Wobbly.

“We’ve known her since she was about 3 months old,” Martins said. “She has some kind of weird neurological disorder, which she has had since she was a kitten.”

Martins said he had never seen the disorder in another large cat. Wobbly walks with an incline and is slower than other pumas.

“But she is quite capable of hunting normal and natural prey like deer,” he explained.

In March, Martins buckled a collar fitted with a GPS tracking device around the lion’s neck. He found out that she lived in the Bennett Valley area and roamed Taylor Mountain Regional Park on the southeastern outskirts of Santa Rosa.

Martins suspects the lion was hunting on Sunday evening as she crossed the beds of a stream to Rohnert Park.

She was “just west of (her) home range” when she was spotted by someone walking on Monday morning, said Ken Paglia, a spokesperson for California Fish and Wildlife.

“About 1,000 feet east of where (she) was spotted is open space territory,” he said.

Rohnert Park officials sent out a Nixle alert around 8 a.m. warning people to avoid the area.

Evergreen Elementary School and Lawrence E. Jones High School were locked for almost three hours.

When Martins arrived, Fish and Wildlife officials gave him the green light to shoot the lion with a tranquilizer dart.

After she was sedated, he checked her vital signs, picked her up and loaded her into a truck.

From there, she was driven to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue in Petaluma, where she “would have another assessment and then we’ll decide what happens from there,” Paglia said.

Staff at the rescue center feared the mountain lion had health problems.

Dozens of mountain lions live in Sonoma County and they generally avoid humans and are only likely to be aggressive when cornered. But that’s not what happened on Monday.

“He was not hiding and was not his usual recluse self,” Famini said, adding that Wobbly’s medical assessment could take a few days.

He added that there was enough prey in the area and that Wobbly had not appeared as his normal routine was being disrupted by unusual factors, such as the ongoing drought in California.

“He wouldn’t have been sitting there if he was perfectly healthy,” said Doris Duncan, the centre’s executive director. “If he heard anyone coming, it would be in hiding. They never stay outside like that. They are afraid of people.

Rescue center workers set up a comfortable den for Wobbly, making sure there was enough foliage and branches to make the big cat feel at home while they watched over her.

“If the lion is deemed healthy enough to return to the wild, we will release it to suitable habitat nearby,” Paglia said.

But if it turns out that she has serious health problems, authorities will either euthanize her or seek a rehabilitation center where she can live, he said.

It is common for Sonoma County mountain lions to roam populated areas, according to Martins, the biologist. The big cats he tracks spend more time on private county property than they spend in open space preserves.

“People who live in Sonoma County live with lions,” Martins said. “But they pose an insignificant threat to people from a human security perspective.”

You can contact editor Matt Pera at [email protected] and Alana Minkler at [email protected] and Colin Atagi at [email protected]


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