A “sick” and “desperate” mountain lion has been spotted in a small Southern California town, leaving officials unsure why it has become weakened.
The massive mammal was spotted on film in Newell Creek, Calif., just 8 miles north of Santa Cruz, where another mountain lion was spotted a few days ago, according to a Facebook post from Wildlife Emergency Services. Officials are concerned that the cat could be dangerous due to its condition.
“Our concern is, the lion is malnourished, and a desperate cat is a dangerous cat,” officials wrote in the post.
“We want to alert this community to keep an eye out for the cat and report sightings to us. We are keeping track and sharing info with the local authorities, namely the Department of Fish and Wildlife,” they added.
Another Facebook post captured the mountain lion on video.
The officials are unclear what is behind the weakened condition, though they have some ideas. One possibility is the wildfires that ravaged the state last year, while other causes could be fire retardant, exposure to rodenticides or something else.
Mountain lions, which are native to the state, are generally solitary creatures but have been spotted occasionally in groups.
In January 2020, five mountain lions were seen together on home surveillance video outside a home east of Sacramento, Calif.
Mountain lions generally stay away from humans, though there have been instances of them “stalking” humans, including one such instance last year in Utah.
According to the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, mountain lions are not threatened or endangered, with the big cat’s population growing in recent years due to its “specially protected species” status.
It’s estimated there are between 4,000 and 6,000 mountain lions in the state, the government agency added.