UPDATE: A Fish and Wildlife expert weighed in on home surveillance video that a Santa Barbara man believed captured images of a small, scrawny mountain lion cub.
“Inconclusive,” Andrew Hughan said. “It’s probably a house cat but it’s impossible for wildlife experts to say … can’t say.”
Hughan cited the quality of the black and white video.
Hughan is a public information officer for three California Department of Fish and Wildlife regions: the Bay Delta, South Coast which runs from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and the Inland Deserts.
NewsChannel 3 wanted to double check with wildlife experts following the long holiday weekend and talked to Hughan for his professional opinion after some people expressed skepticism about the image being that of a mountain lion.
During Tuesday’s phone conversation NewsChannel 3 asked Hughan point blank, “Can you say with absolute certainty that it is not a mountain lion cub?”
“It’s certainly possible that is it,” Hughan said.
NewsChannel 3 also talked to Eric Sullivan, the homeowner whose outdoor surveillance camera captured the images off Foothill Road. Sullivan said that he spent the Memorial Day weekend looking more closely at the images of the cat.
“The tip of the (mountain lion cub’s) tail normally shows up as black. But under infrared, some black things show up light colored,” Sullivan said. “In some angles, the tip of the cat’s tail looks black, in others, it doesn’t.”
Sullivan said the other thing that really struck him about the videotaped cat was its size (he estimated it at 30 pounds) and the fact that his 17 pound cat — that normally chases everything off the deck, including raccoons — refused to go after this one.
“I’m still not convinced, either way,” Sullivan said.
“It was just chance that my wife saw this white shape on the porch moving,” said Eric Sullivan. “So I went back to look at the video and realized it was much bigger than the cat.”
The couple’s home surveillance camera captured the mountain lion cub walking across their front deck, not far from La Cumbre Road.
“I would estimate around 30 pounds, not much more,” Eric said. “It was pretty small for a cat I think, of that type.”
Eric said there was a noticeable difference in size between the cat captured on video and the couple’s 17 pound black cat.
“We’re feeling a little like a wildlife sanctuary here with our bowl of water for the cat,” Lauren Sullivan said. “We’ve had skunks and opossums and raccoons. Never anything like a mountain lion, though. “
The Sullivan’s tell NewsChannel 3 that a neighbor up the street saw a bobcat about the same time Wednesday night; a second neighbor spotted a juvenile mountain lion in the area just over a week ago.