Mountain Lions and Whirlybirds
Look, up in the sky, it’s a … slow news day! You know there aren’t a whole heckuva lot of newsworthy things happening when the skies above the Crescenta Valley suddenly fill with helicopters. Typically, it’s due to yet another traffic nightmare on the section of the 210 Freeway that bisects our sleepy suburb. Sometimes, however, the hordes of hovering helos flock to our verdant valley because we are again being visited by wildlife from the mountains on either side of our valley. Over the past few years the critters have been of the ursine persuasion and have visited so often they were given names like “Rosie” or “Meatball.” Last week, however, our guest from the nearby wilds was a rather large feline who, for now at least, remains nameless in spite of his brief celebrity.
As a growing number of choppers from both Southland broadcasters and local law enforcement swarmed overhead, social media also began to buzz with people posting on Facebook and Twitter asking if anyone knew what was happening in the foothills. About an hour after I first noticed the gathering squadron of helicopters, I channel surfed until I found a live broadcast showing video shot from the KCAL 9 helo hovering over a neighborhood off New York Avenue just above Foothill. The anchor was explaining that a mountain lion had been reported prowling around a neighborhood dangerously near Clark Magnet High School.
Well, no wonder. Such excitement couldn’t have been due solely to the nature of the beast visiting our fair foothills. I mean, we’ve often had mountain lions roaming our neighborhoods. (Which begs the question: If there are mountain lions and sea lions, why aren’t there desert lions or beach lions? But I digress, as I often do.) I’m thinking that because this big kitty was so close to a school, well, that explains the hullabaloo. I mean, wildlife and educators both being volatile, unpredictable creatures, and all.
But seriously, it’s no wonder every authority figure within driving or flying distance was summoned to the scene. We wouldn’t want a cat that size to wander its way into a school full of tender vittles, after all.
And so for several hours the skies above our normally nap-happy valley were abuzz with helicopters chopping at the air – the news copters taking their allotted position high above all the official aircraft who are allowed to fly lower and much closer to where the action is.
From what I could see on TV and hear from radio reports, almost every state, county and city agency was represented, including L.A. County Sheriffs, Glendale Police, the California Department of Fish & Game and even the Pasadena Humane Society. I’m not sure if PETA perps made an appearance, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were there on behalf of the mountain lion. I don’t think the Navy Seals or Army Rangers were deployed, but I could be wrong.
So how do you catch a mountain lion? With a ginormous can of Friskies? A big ol’ bag of cat nip and a scratching post the size of a telephone pole? Not hardly. It turns out you shoot not one, but three tranq darts into the colossal kitty and wait until the drugs take effect to haul the critter back up into the forest.
Speaking of tranquilizing things, they may just have to dart me if I hear one more broadcaster refer to any location here in the Crescenta Valley as “Glendale.” Yes, I realize that – technically – there is a narrow strip of Glendale that pokes up into La Crescenta right where the big cat was prowling around last week, but give me a break. I don’t know one person who lives here who says their home is in Glendale. So, get the sedatives ready, broadcasters. You’ve been warned. Then again, if it’s a slow news day I might be doing you a favor.
I’ll see you ‘round town.