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Mountain lion cornered, captured in California resident's backyard

SAN MATEO, Calif. -- Officials have tranquilized and captured a mountain lion that was cornered in a resident's backyard in downtown San Mateo on Monday, CBS San Francisco reported.

The cat was tranquilized around 7 p.m., and wildlife officials had to wait for the drug to kick in before capturing it.

"This is an example of there's wildlife even in town. It's very unusual to see a lion this far down, and we don't really have an explanation of why. I mean something smelled good to it last night," Andrew Hughman of the Department of Fish and Game said.

Andrew Hughan with the Department of Fish and Wildlife told KCBS the community had been on alert after a pair of sightings on Monday near the city's Central Park off of El Camino.

The first sighting occurred at around 4:30 a.m. Police responded to Avila Road on a report that someone in the neighborhood spotted a big cat.

One police officer said he saw what appeared to be a medium sized, 60-80 pound mountain lion walking towards the rear of a home on Hayward Avenue. The animal was not acting aggressive or predatory in any way. Police canvassed the area but were unsuccessful in locating it.

Then, at around 1:20 p.m., a resident on 9th Avenue, near El Camino Real, reported seeing a large brown cat. Police again responded to canvass the area but were unsuccessful again.

"We're going to try to do everything we can to capture this lion safely and return it to its home habitat. It's very important that people try not (and I know it's a curiosity thing) to gather out and try not to make a bunch of noise. We want people to stay away, stay in their houses. The news helicopters are going to make it kind of worse, frankly," Hughan said.

Hughan added that mountain lions are dangerous animals that startle easily.

"Tranquilizers are not like in TV and in the movies where you just shoot it and it falls right asleep. They take five to 10 minutes and then you have an angry lion with claws and teeth. It's a potentially dangerous situation."

Residents in the area were surprised to see the police action.

"It's pretty crazy to see this happening two blocks from my house," Chris Wackerman said.

Nicole Croce saw the mountain lion.

"It was really pretty, it was pretty big, but it seemed scared," Croce said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Monday night that the cat has returned to its natural habitat.