Sighting of mountain lion has neighbors, authorities on guard

A mountain lion was seen around an unincorporated residential neighborhood near San Mateo on Sunday, prompting an alert by the county Sheriff’s Office and a fruitless search for the wild animal.

At 10:30 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office received a call about a mountain lion spotting in the game preserve behind the 1700 block of Lexington Avenue in the Highlands neighborhood, said San Mateo County Sheriff Sgt. Gary Brown.

An alert about the sighting was immediately sent out to the unincorporated neighborhood, which sits just east of U.S. Highway 280 and north of state Route 92, in the hills above San Mateo.

Brown said the Sheriff’s Office immediately called Fish and Wildlife officials and began searching for evidence that the large cat had been in the area. However, they were unable to confirm the animal’s whereabouts — or existence, he said.

“We checked the area thoroughly and there was no evidence that we could see in terms of a trail or feces or dead animals,” he said.

If the animal had been found, he said, it might have been tranquilized and moved, depending on the circumstances.

“We’d just want to get him out of the area because, obviously, mountain lions and neighborhoods don’t mix,” he said.

Assuming the sighting was real, it’s likely the animal somehow crossed from the vast open space on the west side of Highway 280 to the narrow strip of the game preserve on the east side of the highway, said longtime Lexington Avenue resident Betty O’Connor. Such a crossing is not unheard of: In March 2006, a driver struck and killed a mountain lion crossing Highway 280, a few miles north, in Burlingame.

But O’Connor said she’s not worried. She said in the 40 years she’s lived in the neighborhood, it’s the first time she’s heard of a mountain lion sighting there.

“But we did have a wild turkey in the middle of the street last week,” she said laughing.

kworth@examiner.com

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