Mountain lion spotted in NE Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

The large cat was spotted twice over the past week on Lanes Road, near Friant and Rice, just north of Woodward Park.

Nick Etchison first saw the mountain lion next to an old fence on Lanes Road. "I was like wow, that's a pretty big cat," Etchison said. "It was shocking to me because I've never witnessed one before."

On Wednesday evening, around 11:30, Etchison saw the mountain lion again as he drove home. "I pulled into the field… had the brights shinning. I had a flash light on me, I didn't want to get too far out of the car, shinned it in the field and by that time it was already gone."

Thursday afternoon, California Department of Fish and Game officials surveyed the area. They found several paw prints etched in the dirt.

"To find these paw prints just signifies that we have a healthy eco-system," said Lt. Tony Spada.

The prints confirm the cat, also called a puma or a cougar, is in the area. Some unique features for these prints, there are no nail marks like you would see for on a dog's paw. And a letter 'm' shape can be seen on the heel.

Warning signs have also been posted nearby. If you happen to come across a mountain lion, Fish and Game says stand up for yourself.

"They're just like your normal house cat," Spada said. "House cats like to chase things, so do mountain lions. So, hold your ground and don't panic."

The powerful cats are native to the area. But many people who frequent this part of the San Joaquin haven't seen them.

"You can't really freak out or anything, I mean how often do you really see them out," said Vanessa Lopez.

Fish and Game says when you're out on these trails keep small pets and children close by, just to be safe.

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