Mountain Lion Perched Atop Power Pole Presents Conundrum for Wildlife Officials

PHOTO: A mountain lion stands on a power pole in Lucerne Valley, Calif., Sept. 29, 2015.Peter Day/The Victor Valley Daily Press/AP Photo
A mountain lion stands on a power pole in Lucerne Valley, Calif., Sept. 29, 2015.

Mountain lion sightings are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in populated areas of Southern California, but none of them have been quite like this.

A photographer for the Victor Valley Daily Press captured an image of a puzzled puma on Tuesday on top of a 40-foot utility pole in Lucerne Valley, California.

Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he and other officials are unsure what motivated the mountain lion to ascend the pole.

“It could have been chased up there by another animal or frightened by a car on the road it was walking on,” Hughan told ABC News today. “It really could’ve been anything.”

The mountain lion was perched on top of the pole for about 12 hours, officials said. During that time, Fish and Wildlife officials that were on scene had to debate whether to tranquilize the animal -- a potential risk to the animal due to the height of its perch, Hughan said.

“We’re happy we didn’t have to plan that out,” Hughan said. “Trying to get a mountain lion off a utility pole would have been a really interesting challenge. If we shot it, it would’ve fell and died.”

Fortunately, the mountain lion descended the pole early Wednesday morning and returned to its habitat, Hughan said, noting there have been no reported mountain lion sightings since.

While the Department of Fish and Wildlife has to deal with similar situations involving mountain lions, Hughan said no one in his department has ever encountered anything quite like this.

“A mountain lion 40-feet in the air is normal,” Hughan said. “But 40-feet up in the air on a utility pole is pretty unusual.”