It was a jarring discovery residents on Ritchie Circle in Chico, Tuesday morning. A full grown mountain lion, stalking prey in their back yards. "The first I've heard of it was this morning from one of my daycare parents, who lives over down the street, and apparently it was in her back yard, and the neighbor saw it," according to resident, Keeley Davisson.
Ray Peck has lived in the neighborhood for over two decades, and says he never expected a large predator would make it to his neck of the woods. "It was surprising to me because we're not close to the edge of town, and the animal must have come through the (lindo) channel."
The witness, who declined to speak on camera, told our crews the cat weighted at least 200 pounds, and estimated it was closer than 10 yards away from his back door. Despite the certainty of the witness, Kyle Orr, from the Department of Fish and Wildlife says they can't verify the sighting. "Because a sighting is not verified, that does not necessarily mean that there is not a mountain lion present. They're very elusive animals, they don't always leave behind signs they were there."
Although the presence of a large cat is a cause for concern, Orr says most of the animals try to keep their distance. "Mountain Lions tend to avoid people. Most likely, it was tracking a deer, which is the primary prey for a mountain lion."
According to Orr, the presence of deer is a clear indicator that you're in mountain lion territory, and says if you come face to face with one of the predators, you shouldn't run. "If someone does encounter a mountain lion, they should not run, rather, they should face the animals, make noises, and try to look bigger."
If there's a mountain lion spotted in your area, experts say you should also keep a close eye on your children, and small pets, and never go hiking alone.