SANTA BARBARA — A large adult mountain lion found in the backyard of a Santa Barbara residence was finally caught after a four-hour operation on Monday.Just after 8 a.m., a couple looked in their backyard and spotted a mountain lion walking around. They kept their dog inside the house and called the police to check it out.This isn’t the first time a mountain lion has been spotted in the neighborhood of Apple Grove Lane. Neighbors and also workers at the nearby Santa Barbara Municipal Golf Course have reported sightings before.”My wife saw it first. She said it was like a cat. She said it’s the big brown spot but it’s bigger than a cat,” said Lucio Ramirez, who saw the animal shortly after his wife on the hill of his yard.It was quite a bit bigger. The mountain lion tipped the scales at around 100 pounds.Santa Barbara Police, Animal Control, Santa Barbara Fire, Fish and Wildlife and even the County Sheriff’s helicopter surrounded the big male cat.”We wanted a lot of sets of eyes so we could just track where the animal went in the contingency that it jumped some fences, you know escape the boundaries of this yard and was running around loose in the neighborhood,” said Lt. Paul McCaffrey, Santa Barbara Police Department.Once they saw it hiding in the brush, two Fish and Wildlife officials got ready. One from below in the backyard and one from above on the fire department’s ladder truck positioned above the cat.”We got a shot. Cat’s been darted. Cat’s been darted. Standby,” said a voice over the police radio.Tranquilizers can take up to 20 minutes to be affective, but since the animal was relatively calm already, it took less than five minutes.Albeit groggy, the mountain lion was not injured and Fish and Wildlife officials took it to a waiting Animal Control truck to look it over.”We did a quick evaluation of the animal here and it looks otherwise, appears healthy. No broken limbs or didn’t appear to have any issue at all in terms of health,” said Mike Stefanak, Department of Fish and Wildlife.It takes about two hours for a tranquilizer to wear off. Once he woke up, the mountain lion was released off Paradise Road near Little Pine Mountain.
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