A mountain lion sighting had a Newport Beach neighborhood on guard Friday evening, though state fish and wildlife officials are happy to report that it’s back to the wilderness for M317 — the same wildcat that’s been spotted in Laguna Beach and Irvine.
Initial reports placed the cat in the Port Streets neighborhood near the 1900 block of Port Cardigan Place.
City officials said the appearance of the mountain lion and other wildlife in the area could potentially be attributed to the Coastal fire in Laguna Niguel earlier this month, which may have displaced some of the local fauna.
State wildlife officials confirmed at 7:25 p.m. Friday that M317 had been located in a side yard of a home on Port Cardigan, tranquilized and loaded into a truck to be relocated.
California Fish and Wildlife department spokesman Tim Daly said biologists have described the animal as a young, “dispersing” male, which means that he is currently trying to get his bearings on where he can live and hunt. But because of that, there are times where he — and other wildlife — can accidentally end up in town while in search of food.
Officials say mountain lion attacks are typically rare and that the big cats tend to avoid humans where possible. Residents who encounter the animals should not turn their backs and start running but should avoid approaching the lion and try to appear bigger than the animal and make loud noises.
Mountain lions are classified as a “specially protected species” by the state Fish and Game Commission.