Death of mountain lion evokes mixed response

Monday evening children playfully reenacted the killing of a mountain lion that took place earlier that afternoon in front of a home in Palo Alto while concerned Palo Alto residents addressed the Palo Alto City Council.
In the aftermath of the wild cat hunt that had police searching from early morning until about 1 p.m. Monday afternoon when the cat was shot out of a tree on Walnut Drive, reactions are mixed.

Many Walnut Drive residents are still in shock about the incident. Lisa Mellberg, who lives across the street from the yard where the shooting took place, watched the scene unfold with her nephew from the front yard of her home. "You don’t expect a mountain lion to be in your own backyard, or front yard in this case" Mellberg said.

Linda Frommer’s front yard houses the tree in which the mountain lion was shot. "My parents are visiting and this has been quite exciting with them here," Frommer said. "They’re like ‘what’s going on. We came back to the house and were wondering who all these people in our neighborhood were." When Frommer returned home midmorning, the police had already narrowed the mountain lion search to Rinconada Park and the surrounding area.

Frommer talked with an officer stationed on the corner of Walnut Drive and Walter Hays Drive while, unbeknownst to both of them, the mountain lion slept in the trees overhead. "I got out of my car to talk to the officer, I didn’t realize it then, but [the mountain lion] must have been in the tree the whole time" Frommer said.

Paly freshman Elain Chen read about the incident Monday evening and decided to research more about mountain lions. "Sometimes mountain lions wander off and people think they’re dangerous," Chen said. "The truth is, mountain lions could be endangered some day."

Many students share Chen’s concern for the wild mountain lion population and question the necessity of the killing. "Since they knew about it all day, they could have found a tranquilizer gun or researched another way to catch the mountain lion," Meg Gray, a Paly sophomore said.

However, for concerned parents and residents of the neighborhood around Rinconada Park, the threat of the mountain lion far outweighed animal’s safety. "After I knew the mountain lion had been sighted, it seemed like an eternity before it was shot," Mellberg said. "I called both Jordan Middle School and Duveneck and said that my children were not allowed to walk home."

Like many Walnut Drive residents, some students are thankful that the danger of a loose wild animal is over. "Yeah, I feel bad for the mountain lion," sophomore Karishma Oza said. "But I think that if they hadn’t shot it, it would have attacked the Duveneck kids, so it’s better for all of us that it’s dead now."