VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The mountain lion tranquilized and relocated from Visalia Sunday was wearing a tracking collar.

It was fitted a year ago by researchers studying the movement of mountain lions.

The cat is now about 18 months old and was of age to seek a territory to make his own.

When a wild animal like this mountain lion ends up somewhere it’s not supposed to be, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Human-Wildlife conflict specialist George Harse works to keep people safe.

“This animal got into a situation where it didn’t want to be, either. So, it was important for us to use chemical mobilization. It was the safest for us and the animal in this situation… Mountain lions are one of the kind of main mega predator that we have. So it’s important for us to keep as many as we can in the environment.”

Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Dan Fidler says encounters like this show California’s wild areas are in a delicate balance. 

“We’ve certainly had a very busy year as far as bears and lions down the valley between the dry conditions and the amount of forest fires we’ve had over the last several years, there’s definitely drier more sparse conditions up in the high country.”

Unlike recent mountain lion encounters in Selma and Atwater, this cat was actually wearing a tracking collar. It was fitted by researchers in Long Valley – on the other side of the Sierra Nevada.

“I don’t know if you ever walked over the crest of the Sierras but it’s not a small hike. So, he did it. It did it basically within about three weeks,” said Fidler. So, no small feat. And then I’m sure once getting on top over the top of the crest in the back of the Sierras, you look at all that burnt timber and just kept looking for food and ended up down in Visalia.”

“One individual animal can range hundreds of miles looking for food. And as conditions become more sparse, there’s less food those animals have to have. That range keeps getting bigger, bigger, and bigger. So that’s why we see the amount of distance this animal traveled.”