TEMECULA — A mountain lion was caught in the middle of a busy Southern California city on Friday, after it showed up at the Promenade Mall in Temecula.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department officials said that around 6 a.m., they received several calls of a large cat roaming in the parking lot adjacent to the mall.
When deputies arrived on scene, they found a 150-pound mountain lion near the Macy’s store, officials said.
Deputy Albert Martinez says Fish and Wildlife officials were then called to the scene, and “they were able to safely corral the animal” around 7 a.m. and capture it using a tranquilizer dart.
Fish and Wildlife officials were set to medically evaluate the mountain lion prior to releasing it in the wild, but sadly, the animal died shortly after its capture.
“Unfortunately, while it was in transit, it died,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokesman Kyle Orr told Patch. “It’s not common, but there is an inherent risk anytime you immobilize a wild animal.”
The spokesman for the wildlife agency said that the animal was a male, who was not acting aggressively during the capture process. He said it likely wandered to the mall, looking for its own territory.
“It wasn’t acting aggressively, but it was certainly in a place that wasn’t appropriate for a mountain lion,” Orr said.
Orr said it’s too early to speculate on the cause of death, but a necropsy will be performed on the animal.
“We do our very, very best to catch these animals alive,” Lt. Patrick Foy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife said after the animal’s death. “When we do dart that animal, we are doing so with our best intentions of the animal’s life.”