Witnesses saw the male cougar napping in a planter attached outside a Macy's department store in Santa Rosa, California, Monday morning, Greg Martinelli, wildlife and lands program manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told ABC News.
Around 9 a.m., wildlife officials shot the 50-pound mountain lion with four tranquilizer darts and waited for the drugs to immobilize it, Martinelli said. The lion did not "go down" right away, which is why additional shots were required, he added.
Mountain lions often appear along urban-rural borders, allowing wildlife officials to "let them disperse back into their habitats" on their own, Martinelli said. Because the lion was in downtown Santa Rosa, a completely urban landscape, department workers decided to tranquilize it to enable them to transport it.
After the cougar was removed, he was checked out by veterinarians and a local researcher placed an ear tag on him and took a DNA sample, Martinelli said. The lion was then released into a suitable habitat north of Santa Rosa.
It is normal behavior for juvenile mountain lions that are no longer with their mothers to roam the area, Dr. Quentin Martins, director of the Living With Lions Project, told ABC San Francisco station KGO. The lion's habitat was likely located at a creek near the Santa Rosa Plaza, Martins said.
No one was hurt in the incident, according to KGO.