Mountain Lion sighting reported near school in 4S Ranch

Students at Oak Valley MS told to stay indoors

SAN DIEGO - Authorities searched open areas near Black Mountain Park Tuesday following a reported mountain lion sighting, but found no sign of any such wild predator cat, a sheriff's official said.

A passer-by reported seeing what appeared to be puma roaming on a hiking trail near Winecreek and Carmel Valley roads in 4S Ranch shortly before 9:30 a.m., according to Lt. Scott Amos.

The hiking trail is near Oak Valley Middle School, and school officials kept students indoors during the search.

The principal told 10News that these types of sightings are not unusual since the school sits near Black Mountain and the area has a lot of open space. Bobcats and mountain lions have been spotted in the past.

Deputies searched the area on foot and aboard a sheriff's helicopter for about 45 minutes, spotting no mountain lion, Amos said.

10News found several sets of tracks that appeared to have been left by bobcats, and perhaps a mountain lion. 10News sent pictures of the paw prints to Scott Tremor with the San Diego Natural History Museum, who said he's not certain, but prints may very likely be from a mountain lion.

John Cahill was running the trail and pointed out those paw prints.

"Just running along, you can see mountain lion tracks further down the trail," said Cahill.

He'd been alerted by the air search directly overhead.

"I saw the helicopter circling which puts me on alert when I'm out running; so any time I run past mud I start looking for tracks. When I see them, I hoof it off the trail," said Cahill.

The reported sighting has some parents concerned.

Tracy Bilhorn told 10News, "Absolutely because there's a whole wild area right across the street from the school so they must be living over there and coming down early in the evening or late at night; so it's concerning that it'd be so close here."  

Bilhorn, who also runs the trail, added, "All the time, that's why I'm so concerned."

David Lim was walking his dog along the trail, and he told 10News, "I didn't see any bobcat or mountain lion, but I did see a snake out there; five to six feet long snake."

Ryan Sather said he's aware of his surroundings.  

"It's part of nature. You've got to deal with it, expect it and I respect them, and if I see one I'll give it its distance," said Sather.

Sheriff's personnel will keep an eye out for the animal in the course of their normal duties in the rural community west of Rancho Bernardo, Amos said.

"They'll certainly be aware that there may be a big cat out there somewhere," he said.

Two years ago, a mountain lion was killed after being hit by a car very near the same location.

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