Mountain lion killed in downtown Santa Monica

a mountain lion is cornered Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. After efforts to tranquilize the animal failed, officers were forced to kill the animal to prevent it from escaping onto the streets. Enlarge photo

Santa Monica Police Department/Associated Press

a mountain lion is cornered Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. After efforts to tranquilize the animal failed, officers were forced to kill the animal to prevent it from escaping onto the streets.

LOS ANGELES – Police shot and killed a mountain lion that somehow made its way through an urban landscape before it was found early Tuesday in a downtown Santa Monica office building courtyard near an outdoor mall and a blufftop park that offers tourists views of the ocean and the city’s famed pier.

Authorities made multiple attempts to try and subdue the young male cat, including use of a tranquilizer and a pepper ball, before killing it, said Capt. Daniel Sforza of the state Fish and Game Department.

The mountain lion was found about 6 a.m. by a janitor in the courtyard near a popular open-air mall, the Third Street Promenade, and just a couple of blocks from the beach. The street that has a preschool, a church and other businesses was cordoned off as a precaution.

“It’s not a risk we can take with public safety,” said police Lt. Robert Almada.

It wasn’t immediately known how the cat ended up in the middle of the city. The National Park Service has been monitoring 22 mountain lions with GPS radio-collars more than two miles away in the Santa Monica Mountains.

A typical home range for mountain lions is around 200 square miles for adult males, said the agency that has been conducting a study since 2002 in the Santa Monica Mountains to determine how urbanization is affecting the large cats.

Sforza said a necropsy will be performed to see if the mountain lion had rabies or any other diseases.

“It’s very unusual,” Sforza said of finding the mountain lion. “It’s just really hard to speculate.”

Lorraine Miller, 89, said she was driving to her novels class, part of a college emeritus program for seniors, when she learned the mountain lion was in the building’s courtyard where she was supposed to go.

“It seemed at first it was some kind of tall tale,” said Miller, who has lived in Santa Monica for more than 40 years. “Then after a while you see all of this action. It was overwhelming.”

Mountain lions are one of the most widespread carnivores in the world with a historical range from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Hundreds of mountain lion sightings are reported every year in California, but attacks on humans are rare. Between 1890 and 2007, there have only been 16 attacks in the state, according to Fish and Game statistics.

Miller said she believes killing the mountain lion was the right, but unfortunate, option.

“In my opinion they were taking care of the public,” Miller said. “Frankly you can’t object to being taken care of.”