A mountain lion sighting led to a temporary lock down at a Placerville school Tuesday morning.
Neighbors in the rural mountain community surrounding Monterrey and Broadway say they spotted the animal in their backyards near El Dorado Adventist School.
Neighbors’ emotions ranged from a bit nervous to terrified after a mountain lion is believed to have turned up in their neighborhood.
They say they’re generally comfortable with the wildlife that surrounds them, however, the suspected mountain lion is a different story.
“At first it was just laying down and I couldn’t see the head or anything,” said Don Schmitt.
“I thought it was a pretty big dog, and I kept watching it, and then when it moved I knew it wasn’t a dog, it was a young lion,” Mary Coffin said.
A young mountain lion that is. Next door neighbors Coffin and Schmitt say they saw one behind their Placerville properties Tuesday, just yards away from the parking lot of El Dorado Adventist School.
Investigators with the Department of Fish and Wildlife confirm the description Coffin and Schmitt gave is consistent with that of a mountain lion.
“It was pretty, brown and white, looked like a young one,” Coffin said.
A 20-year resident of the area, Coffin said the suspected lion paced and lounged in the grass behind her property for about three hours.
About 12 hours later, another neighbor who didn’t want to be identified, believes his dogs sensed that same animal and were afraid.
“My dogs went flat to the ground, and they’re absolutely huge, and they never go flat, but they did,” says the man.
This neighbor never saw the mountain lion, but after speaking with Coffin Wednesday morning, he was spooked enough to warn the El Dorado Adventist school.
“Scared the living dickens out of me. I don’t want to see none of the kids get hurt,” the man said.
His alert sent the campus into a brief, self-imposed, lock down while Placerville Police and Fish and Wildlife officers investigated.
Officers said they did not find any trace of a mountain lion, but say it would not be unusual in the area. Neighbors say they know this but will still feel better if they don’t see the animal again.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife want to make it clear they did not find any evidence of a mountain lion, but say based on what they’ve heard from neighbors, this particular animal isn’t a public safety threat.
The animal was never spotted on the school campus, the lock down was just a precaution.