Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 1, 2013

Mountain lion spotted by firefighters

Third confirmed sighting this year

by Glenn Wohltmann

First it was geese descending on school playgrounds. Now it's a mountain lion, spotted near the city's Operations Center.

Firefighters spotted the mountain lion at about 4:30 a.m. Oct. 28 at 3333 Busch Road. The mountain lion did not approach the firemen but rather was laying in a grassy area of the service yard.

Police said there have been previous sightings of mountain lions in the area, between Mohr Avenue and the open space behind the Operations Service Center but no reported attacks on people or pets.

It's the third reported sighting of a big cat in Pleasanton this year. One was spotted on the golf course at Castlewood Country Club in late December or early January and an infrared camera snapped a picture of one outside a home is in a wooded area near Arroyo de la Laguna.

There were also sightings late last year of a mysterious large black cat; rumors say the cat was an exotic pet released by its owner.

On the opposite end of town, the goose problem was solved with the help of plastic coyotes, according to Hearst Elementary School principal Michael Kuhfal

"We were having issues with geese, the geese landing on the grass and droppings. They were interfering with our kids' ability to play," Kuhfal said.

Dogs were the first consideration, but, Kuhfal said, "We heard that the Oakland Raiders had brought in these coyotes that were plastic."

The plastic coyotes have bushy tails and are an effective deterrent, he said.

"What we have found is that they have to be rotated regularly, because geese are very smart and they will land on the field if they weren't moved," Kuhfal said. The six plastic coyotes cost the school about $50 apiece.

Meanwhile, San Ramon homeowners have had to deal with an invasion of pigs digging up yards. A trapper was hired and 12 pigs were caught and killed, with one homeowner opting to have the pig trapped on his land butchered. The trapper said he didn't catch a sow, so it's likely they'll return the next time it's dry and food is scarce. San Ramon also had a recent bobcat sighting.

"We're encroaching on their land, even though we look at it as them encroaching on our land," said Pleasanton Naturalist Eric Nicholas.

He said awareness is the key to getting along.

"We see people on TV and in the movies constantly being chased by animals. That is not the norm," Nicholas said. "Education will solve most of our problems when it comes to wildlife."

The Pleasanton Police Department has a number of tips regarding mountain lions:

* Avoid hiking or jogging alone in rural areas, especially in the early morning, evening or night.

* Never approach a mountain lion. If confronted by one, do not run; face it, stand upright, wave your arms, and make noise to scare it off.

* Do not feed deer. It's illegal in California and doing so attracts mountain lions.

* Avoid landscaping with plants deer like to eat.

* Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions, and install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.

* Don't allow pets outside during times when mountain lions are most active, and bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossum, and other potential mountain lion prey.

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