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Growling mountain lion spotted in tree near Southern California elementary school

Growling mountain lion spotted in tree near Southern California elementary school
Posted at 9:51 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 09:51:42-05

CARLSBAD, Calif. — Two teenagers were stopped in their tracks when they looked into a tree and found a creature looking back at them along a Carlsbad street.

On Nov. 13, around 10:30 a.m., a college freshman did a double-take while walking along Babilonia Street in the La Costa area. He called a friend, who drove right over. They made a quick recording.

Perched in a tree, about 25 feet up, was a mountain lion, growling.

The mother of one of the teens said soon after they stopped recording, they looked up, and it was gone.

Lauren DuBois of Project Wildlife at the San Diego Humane Society says it's hard to tell whether the mountain lion was a juvenile or an adult. She says she's not surprised it was in a tree.

"Not unusual at all. They will climb trees and rest in trees quite often," DuBois said.

Dubois said the big cat was likely relaxing after a long night.

"They can have up to 100 square miles of a territory. Most of the time, they are hunting from dusk to dawn, so a lot of the time, that's where they will be resting," she said.

The concern? Less than half a mile away is La Costa Meadows Elementary School, which resumed in-person learning in October.

Neighbors say there have been sightings of a mountain lion in nearby Box Canyon for years. One of those neighbors filed a report of the most recent sighting with state Fish and Wildlife officials.

DuBois says the big cat wasn't aggressive in the recent sighting, despite the growl.

"(It's saying) hey, I'm up here — don't want you to be there. I'm going to take off now," Dubois said.

She says anyone who does come across a mountain lion in a tree should slowly back away and maintain eye contact.

"It's probably going to just leave. If it does come after you, make yourself large and make noise," Dubois said.

This story was originally published by Michael Chen on KGTV in San Diego.