Mountain lion captured near Oracle Park in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A mountain lion was captured in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood early Thursday morning after the animal had been spotted several times this week wandering the city streets.

A police officer saw the cat at 5:22 this morning next to the Channel residential building at Channel and 4th Streets. The cat hunkered down against a brick wall while officials moved in. They chose not to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer dart because of its small size.

"When they are that small they often tend to die from being tranquilized," said Virginia Donohue, the Director of Animal Care and Control in San Francisco.

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Knowing the animal was alert put officials on high alert. San Francisco police officers formed a barrier with their shields so the mountain lion could not see an escape route. Residents of the Channel building trying to walk their dogs were told to get back inside.

"They asked us to take these guys away so the mountain lion wouldn't smell them and get agitated," said Irene Bryant, referencing her two small dogs.

As officers carrying nets pushed in, the cat then jumped a barrier into a terrace area. It took two animal control officers, a fish and wildlife officer and two nets to secure it. Officials say they got the animal into one net but that didn't last long.

"She just tore the net right off the hoop in one go," said Donohue.

They then trapped it in a second net and placed it in an animal crate.

The cat has been spotted several times this week wandering the streets of San Francisco including in the Russian Hill neighborhood and in the parking lot of our news building next to the Embarcadero. Animal experts at first appreciated the up close view provided by security and cell phone cameras. But as the sightings continued, they grew worried.

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"We were struck by the beauty of the animal and we adore them. But yesterday (Wednesday) when we saw her walking in some areas where there is patio furniture we said -ok this is not a good thing. We have got to get this lion out of here," said Donohue.

When a police officer called in the sighting Thursday morning, officials saw their opportunity.

Irene Bryant says she was surprised when she saw how small the animal was after it was trapped in the net.

"I felt really bad. It must have been really scared. I mean it is roaming the city. It is not in its natural environment," she said.

Although Donohue referred to the animal as "she', they don't know the cat's gender. She said officers just started referring to it as "she" because it is "so beautiful."

Fish and Wildlife officials took the animal to the veterinarian to be checked out. Once the examination is complete, they will decide what to do with the cat.

Earlier in the week biologists had estimated it was a sub-adult, about 15 months old.

At this time they don't know the age or gender.
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