ATWATER, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- The city of Atwater has rescinded a shelter-in-place order for residents near Atwater High School after a mountain lion was spotted roaming the area Saturday morning.

In a Facebook post, the city first reported the sighting around 8 a.m.  City officials asked neighbors and those visiting the area of Winton Way and Fruitland Avenue to take precaution and remain inside while authorities searched for the big cat.

Atwater police initially cordoned off the area and set up roadblocks around the school, until the Department of Fish and Game arrived. Additionally, the Merced County Sheriff’s Office and the CHP were called out to assist.

The four agencies searched the surrounding areas for the mountain lion, by ground and by air, and were ultimately unable to locate it but officers say they were able to track the animal on residential doorbell surveillance cameras.

Atwater Police Chief Michael Salvador said, “Around 10 a.m. after an extensive search, the Atwater Police Department, along with its partners, determined there was no evidence the mountain lion was still within the city and therefore there is no threat to public safety at this time”.

The chief also urges anyone who sees the mountain lion, should it return, to immediately contact the Atwater police department at 209-357-6384.

The United States Forest Service offers this information if you encounter a mountain lion:

  • Keep children close to you. Animals seem especially drawn to children.
  • Pick up small children. The mountain lion will see small children as easier prey. 
  • Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation, so give them a way to escape.
  • Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase.
  • Do not crouch down or bend over. A human standing does not resemble a mountain lion’s natural prey.
  • Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.