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Monday, September 26, 2005

Lion sightings no cause for alarm

By Barry Shatzman, STAFF WRITER for the Daily Review, California.

UNION CITY, CA — It's one thing to see a stray cat in your driveway. But when the type of cat happens to be California's largest pure carnivore, that's another thing.
When checking a motion-activated camera one recent morning, a man was surprised to see a mountain lion wandering by his driveway in the west side of the city. Another was just as surprised when one crossed his path while he was driving on Whipple Road near Mission Boulevard.

About half of California is prime mountain lion country, according to the state Department of Fish and Game. They typically stay in the hills, where deer are more plentiful. Because they almost always hunt alone and at night, many people will never see one.

But every so often, one wanders into populated areas, usually following creeks and streams. Though the two sightings earlier this month were miles apart, they likely were of the same cat, police Chief Randy Ulibarri said. Adult males can cover a territory of more than 100 square miles.

"Our little visitor may also visit Fremont, Hayward, Newark and even Pleasanton," he said.

No one was threatened or seemed to be in any danger from the creature, City Manager Larry Cheeves said. And many experts concur that there is little reason for area residents to become alarmed. It is possible, some believe, that mountain lions don't recognize a standing person as prey.


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