POLLOCK PINES -- People who live in the Sierra foothills know they're in mountain lion country, but the elusive cats are seldom seen.
That's why it was surprising to many in Pollock Pines when a young mountain lion wandered into the back door of an occupied bakery and settled into a corner.
The lion spent several hours inside the South Fork 1848, Eatery and Bakeshop Monday afternoon while representatives of the El Dorado Sheriff's Office and Department of Fish and Wildlife observed it and determined a course of action.
"I thought it was tired, trying to take a nap," said eyewitness Aaron Luchterhandt. "I heard there were sightings of it actually a couple other places within the couple days before here in the neighborhood."
"I knew there was something wrong with it," said another eyewitness named Danny. "That's why it was in here. It was sick."
Wardens tranquilized the mountain lion at the bakery before taking it to the lab.
A Fish and Wildlife spokesperson told FOX40 the animal was evaluated by a team of veterinarians, who determined it to be 4 to 5 months old, too young to live on its own.
They say it was emaciated, dehydrated and so lethargic at the bakery its only reaction to the wardens placing a hand on it was to raise its head momentarily to look at them. Veterinarians determined the young mountain lion too sick to be rehabilitated.
In a statement, Fish and Wildlife further explained, in part:
"Upon getting the animal in hand, our senior veterinarian assessed it to be in very poor condition, behaving unusually, with no mother around, so CDFW determined that the most humane course of action was to euthanize the animal, which happened on the night of Oct. 15. Yesterday they began a necropsy on the carcass to test for underlying diseases that may have contributed to the animal’s condition."
The decision to euthanize the animal has sparked a lot of debate on the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office Facebook page where members of the community have left hundreds of comments.