HILLSBOROUGH (CBS SF) – A home surveillance camera at a house in Hillsborough on Wednesday morning captured the moment a mountain lion dragged the lifeless body of a deer off a front porch.
The barking dogs and pair of glowing eyes in the darkness were the first clues that something was on the porch. The sound led Hillsborough resident Peter Rauenbuehler to realize he should probably turn on the light.
What he and house mate Mary Mines saw was startling.
While she says she has seen an occasional coyote wander through her Peninsula neighborhood, Mines wasn’t quite prepared for what she saw when she opened her front door to see what the commotion was on her porch early Wednesday morning.
She quickly slammed the door shut, looked through the peephole and saw a mountain lion that had apparently just killed a deer.
While she and Rauenbuehler watched through a window, the big cat dragged the dead deer away.
The incident was captured on the couple’s security camera.
“It was more exciting, I think, than scary,” said Rauenbuehler.
In the video, the mountain lion appeared stunned by the lights before grabbing its prey by the neck and dragging it off in a matter of seconds.
Rauenbuehler told KPIX 5 the deer was likely eating the roses in his front yard when the mountain lion attacked and killed it.
The predator then dragged the carcass over the wrought iron fence, leaving behind fur on the railing and knocking off a piece of the fence.
The mountain lion then dragged the deer down a short flight of stairs and right onto the porch.
When asked if it spook him that the big cat came so close to his home, Rauenbuehler was fairly nonchalant.
“No. I don’t want them messing with the dogs or the kids in the neighborhood,” said Rauenbuehler. “I think we’ll be more cautious at least in the near future.”
Researchers at UC Santa Cruz’s Puma Project think the mountain lion is an unknown adult male weighing approximately 100-110 pounds that is not in their database.
They believe the mountain lion likely wandered through the wooded area near Crystal Springs Basin, came up through the canyon and into the neighborhood.
Researcher Justine Smith said the puma probably thought the covered porch was a good hiding spot.
“Pumas will often will kill their prey and then they drag it to a place they think feel is safe to consume,” said Smith. “Usually that means they’ll drag it down a hill underneath the bush and then cover it with leaves, someplace where they feel undercover and they feel safe. Potentially it perceived that porch as a covered safe place for them to eat their meal.”
Smith said the area of Hillsborough where Rauenbeuhler lives is likely too small and dense with homes and humans to support mountain lions.
“I don’t think that this puma will stay in the area,” explained Smith. “But it wouldn’t surprise me if it took advantage of another area with high populations of deer near people again.”
Rauenbeuhler said it is all part of life when you live near the woods.
“Hopefully the deer will stop eating our roses,” he laughed.