At the Lake: Mountain lion prowls Keys |

At the Lake: Mountain lion prowls Keys

by Adam Jensen

Properties in the Tahoe Keys typically come with a view, but several residents found it hard to believe their eyes early Monday morning.

A 97-pound male mountain lion was discovered roaming through the backyards of condominiums at Tahoe Marina Shores.

After several attempts to scare the mountain lion out of the neighborhood, the big cat eventually was sedated and released back into the wild.

Adorea Agahi, a co-owner of a property in the complex, said she saw the mountain lion just outside her condominium’s sliding glass door as early as 5:30 a.m.

“(He) didn’t seem aggressive at all. (He) seemed stressed,” Agahi said.

Wanting to make neighbors aware of the mountain lion, Agahi’s husband, Tooraj Agahi, called 911. Operators initially told the Pollock Pines residents there was nothing police could do, but after the cat remained in the area, Tooraj Agahi called Tahoe Keys Homeowners Association security. Security officers responded to the scene and called police again.

Officers from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers from Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care arrived at about 8:30 a.m. and tried repeatedly to get the mountain lion out of the neighborhood via a beach escape route.

More than a dozen people tried to limit the cat’s routes into the Keys and made noise in an attempt to scare it away. The cat then proceeded to lead the group on a chase across the complex’s courtyard.

“One thing you can count on with wildlife – you never know what they’re going to do,” said Tom Millham, secretary and treasurer of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care.

Eventually, the mountain lion became cornered between a fence and the back of a condominium, and a tranquilizer gun was brought in to sedate the animal.

Pete Van Arnum, a sergeant with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and a Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care volunteer, took two shots at the mountain lion. His first shot bounced off, apparently hitting bone, but a second dart was stuck, hitting the cat’s right rear end.

Unsure of the dart’s effectiveness, volunteers cautiously approached the cat and determined the mountain lion was unconscious at approximately 9:45 a.m.

The sedated mountain lion was taken to Alpine Veterinary Hospital in South Lake Tahoe and examined by veterinarians Neil Powell and Kevin Willitts.

Other than 40 to 50 porcupine quills removed from the mountain lion’s paws and forelegs, the 2- to 4-year-old cat appeared to be healthy, Willitts said.

Arnum and Millham released the cat south of Lake Tahoe on Monday afternoon.

While evidence of mountain lions is not uncommon in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin, seeing one of the creatures up close is a rare experience.

“I’ve been up here 30 years, and this is the first one I’ve seen,” Van Arnum said.

“Honestly, it’s a little scary,” said Cyndi Kettmann, who also saw the cat on her back porch Monday morning. “But I also felt bad for it. It was probably as scared of us as we were of it.”

Doug Updike, senior wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game, recently was quoted in the Sierra Sun as saying there have been just 16 mountain lion attacks on humans in California in the past 125 years.

“I’m not terrified or anything,” said Marina Shores resident Alex Bebout. “I think it’s kind of cool.”