CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) – A family in Citrus Heights was surprised to find a mountain lion sitting in their tree over the weekend.
Keith Dunham and his family got a good look at what was perched in the redwood tree outside their home at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.
“He’s curled up there, laying,” Dunham told FOX40 describing a picture his family took. “The picture is of his eyes. Staring back at us.”
Dunham’s daughter is the one who first spotted it.
“The dog started barking. And so, she looked out the window to see what the dog was barking about. And that’s when she noticed a mountain lion going up the tree,” Dunham said.
The family called Citrus Heights police who came out and confirmed it was a mountain lion.
Police officials told FOX40 that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was consulted.
Fish and wildlife officials were preparing to come out but decided not to because the big cat came down the tree on its own.
The mountain lion jumped over a backyard fence on Woodenfield Court, before disappearing into the open space by East Lawn Cemetery before the sun rose.
“Pretty easy to maneuver around here as an animal,” Dunham said.
The neighborhood has plenty of food for a mountain lion with wild turkeys roaming the area.
Although near a developed neighborhood, Arcade Creek provides a protected passageway for the mountain lion.
Fish and wildlife officials told FOX40 that a mountain lion appearing in the neighborhood is not unheard of even though it happens rarely.
“I would’ve liked to see him relocated for his own safety. There’s plenty of food source for him. So, he’s not going to attack a human,” Dunham said.
Mountain lions are notoriously private and solitary creatures.
Although they may stay hidden to hikers in the California foothills, that doesn’t mean they aren’t watching.
“I believe that 100% because there was a huge portion of time that I couldn’t see it,” Dunham said. “My daughter could. But I couldn’t. She had to keep pointing it out to me because I couldn’t see the silhouette.”
Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy said neighbors in the immediate area of the sighting should keep their pets indoors and be aware.
The agency also advises to not leave pet food outside, particularly during its active hours of dawn, dusk and at night.
For neighbors who do see a mountain lion, they are asked to call 911, who in turn will dispatch police who have a faster response.
From there, authorities can work with fish and wildlife officials to coordinate a response.
Dunham, who is an outdoorsman and hunter in his free time, said a mountain lion perched in a tree outside his own front door is ironic.
“You can never go out in wildlife and find them. But you find them in your neighborhood,” Dunham said.
Fish and wildlife officials said mountain lion attacks on humans are uncommon but to practice safety measures to reduce the risk of meeting one, such as deer-proofing the land and eliminating hiding spaces.
To report any wildlife sightings, click or tap here, or call 911 if there’s a threat.