Mountain lion found in backyard taken to Tulsa Zoo
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Sunday, April 24, 2011
4/24/11 at 6:56 AM
A 70-pound mountain lion was not what Derrick Lazenby expected to see in his back yard Saturday afternoon.
But that's what he found about 20 feet up in a tree in the 1400 block of North Quanah Avenue shortly after noon.
"Of all the things you could see at the zoo, who would have thought you would see it in your backyard," Lazenby said.
Tulsa police received a call about noon about a mountain lion in a tree in the residential neighborhood near Pine Street just west of the L.L. Tisdale Parkway. They responded with officials from the Tulsa Zoo, Animal Control and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to keep the female big cat contained and take her to safety.
Officials shot the animal with a tranquilizer; she then ran through several back yards and trees as officials followed along.
"We had to keep it contained in back yards until the tranquilizer could take effect," said Tulsa Police Officer James Rogers. "We had a lot of issues with safety of the public because they wanted to get out and see it."
The mountain lion finally fell asleep about 3 p.m., and zoo officials rushed in to care for the animal.
"She did a good, controlled fall" from a tree, said Kay Backues, a veterinarian with the Tulsa Zoo, who added that shooting the animal with the tranquilizer and waiting for it to take effect was the best and safest way to get the cat under control.
She said the mountain lion had no apparent injuries, but they did have to work to stabilize her and cool the cat down before she could be transported to the zoo.
Backues said the mountain lion is a "healthy, young adult female," that weighed about 70 pounds.
It wasn't clear if the animal was wild or if it was someone's pet, Backues said. But, she cautioned that "having one as a pet is foolish."
The mountain lion will be cared for at the Tulsa Zoo until Tulsa police or the Wildlife Conservation Department can find a permanent home for the animal.
Mountain lions aren't unheard of in Oklahoma, but they are rare, according to the ODWC. Most sightings have occurred in the southern and western portions of the state. However, "cougars may even have home ranges that cover 200 square miles," according to ODWC's website.
The number of mountain lions in the state is unclear, according to ODWC.
"Agency personnel have not conducted population surveys or assessed habitat availability, making it impossible to issue clear statements about the abundance of wild mountain lions," according to the department's website.
Wild mountain lions primarily hunt deer and are most active at night. A mountain lion "generally hunts at dawn or dusk, but can be active during the day in areas undisturbed by man."
Original Print Headline: Mountain lion in good condition after rescue
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Kay Backues, a Tulsa Zoo veterinarian, zookeepers and state Wildlife Conservation officials carry a tranquilized mountain lion found in a tree in north Tulsa on Saturday afternoon. The lion will receive care at the zoo. JERRY WOFFORD / Tulsa World