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California Public Park Closes After Mountain Lion Growls at Children

A public park in urban Cupertino, California shut down recently after a mountain lion got aggressive with children. 

The mountain lion found refuge in a tree in the park after reportedly growling at a group of children. Police arrived and waited for the mountain lion to come down out of the tree, sparking quite a strange standoff.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived at the scene and decided against tranquilizing and relocating the animal. Instead, the plan was to simply wait for the cat to come down from the tree and leave the McClellan Ranch Preserve park on its own terms, which it finally did that night.

The tree that the mountain lion was in was between two residential streets, which concerns officials.

“We had a lot of deputies pretty much surrounding the park area just to make sure our residents are safe,” said Captain Rick Sung.

The park was filled with people when the mountain lion made an appearance. Witnesses say that the mountain lion came into the park and clearly growled at a group of children. This kind of aggression is rarely seen by elusive cougars. Sightings of mountain lions are common in the northern California hills around Cupertino but it is rare for them to interact with humans.

Sung explains:

“Usually what it is, is people will see it and the mountain lion will just walk away.”

The park was evacuated after the interaction.

A local man near the park heard there was a mountain lion in his neighborhood and took some incredible close-ups of the cat in the tree.

Stuart Yusem via
Stuart Yusem via Mercury News

There have been 14 mountain lion attacks in California since 1986 but park visitors are still wondering why officials didn’t relocate the lion.

“Unless it’s a threat to public safety,” Andrew Hughan, spokesperson for the Department of Fish and Wildlife said, “our policy is not to do anything. The lion is just being a lion.”

California Public Park Closes After Mountain Lion Growls at Children