By Miriam Raftery
November 12, 2010 (Alpine) – People in an Alpine barber shop in were startled to see a mountain lion roaming along the 1700 block of Alpine Blvd. shortly after 9:30 a.m. The lion reportedly leaped from a pine tree and later ran into bushes next to a home near the Alpine Community Center and Alpine Elementary School, prompting the Sheriff’s department to summon Fish & Game officials. By the time wildlife officers arrived, however, the lion was gone.
“This one was fairly small, the guy at the barber shop said,” Lt. Robert Haley with the Alpine Sheriff’s substation told East County Magazine. Witnesses were confident that the big cat was a lion, Haley added, and not a bobcat which is smaller and has no tail. “They saw a tail on this one.” A bystander also observed the head and ears poking up above shrubbery while officers were on hand and said that it appeared to be a fairly small lion, possibly a young one, he added.
In a 10 News interview, barber shop owner Dean Poore described the mountain lion as "big", however, "at least 90 pounds."
Angela Brookshire, director of the Alpine Community Network, said she spoke with Poore, who indicated that he saw the lion and so did a customer. “He showed me the tree that it climbed up across the street,” Brookshire said. “He says that he absolutely knows what a mountain lion looks like, and it was a mountain lion.”
Daytime sightings of mountain lions are rare, since the big cats are normally nocturnal. This is the second broad daylight report of a mountain lion near an East County School this week, however. Two days ago, a lion was spotted near Jamacha Elementary School in the Rancho San Diego area by a parent at 10 a.m.
Sheriff’s dispatch received multiple calls about the lion in Alpine this morning, Haley said. The lion has likely been helping itself to meals at the residence where it was reportedly hiding in bushes today. “The lady there had lost eight chickens and some cats,” Haley added.
Sheriff’s deputies kept watch to assure that the lion would not pose a danger to school children or others, however the lion eluded authorities and escaped. Fish and Game officers scoured the area but found no prints, though the area was grassy, according to Haley.
“We’ll keep a patrol in the area,” he added, noting that the school district superintendent has been notified to warn parents about a mountain lion close to the school. “It was right across the street.”
Fish and Game officials have the option to trap and relocate the lion if it is determined to pose a threat to children in the community, Haley said.
Shooting a mountain lion is illegal in California, except in cases where a depredation permit is obtained when a lion kills livestock. Violators may face criminal penalties.