Photo of Colusa “mountain lion” turns out to be a feral house cat

A photo that was purported to show a mountain lion walking in a field behind SavMor in Colusa was the talk of the town last week after the picture was shared by the Colusa Police Department’s Facebook page on Oct. 17.

As it turns out, the photo was not what it appeared to be at first blush – though it initially fooled area residents and wildlife officials alike.

Both California Department of Fish and Wildlife Game Warden Brett Gomes and Colusa County Trapper Dan Davis said that when they first saw the picture, they assumed it was a mountain lion. Both men responded to the location to investigate. Both came to the same conclusion.

So, was there actually another sighting in the City of Colusa, just three months after a lion caused a stir when it crashed through a window of a Main Street apartment and onto the bed of a sleeping resident?

“No,” Gomes said. “Well, there was a sighting of a house cat.”

According to Davis, there was no room for interpretation once the investigation was over with.

“No doubt, 100 percent, it was a house cat,” Davis said.

Both Davis and Gomes described the photo as deceiving.

“You kind of have to put a little time and a little homework into it to figure it out, but that picture is actually a house cat,” Davis said. “…People don’t want to hear that because they got the lion on their mind with the other incident that happened at the Bowling Alley (in July). But fortunately, it was just a house cat (in the photo).”

Davis said that after blowing the photo up, it was apparent that the color of the animal didn’t fit that of a mountain lion. The size wasn’t right, either, upon closer examination.

“In the picture, if you look at it, to the right of the cyclone fence post, up on that levee, there is a rock in that picture. From where the cat is to the rock, it’s only three feet. That rock was only about three inches wide, which gives you a better idea of the size of the cat,” Davis said. “If it would have been a lion, its back would have been another two-thirds of the way up that cyclone fence… When I took a look at it, it just wasn’t sizing up. I knew that levee was closer to the fence than the perspective in the picture. Even if it were a small lion in that picture, it would have been four times that size. It’s just perception, that’s all.”

When Gomes and Davis took a walk out into the field to look for mountain lion tracks, they only found tracks belonging to house cats. They spotted a total of 13 of them in the field, Davis said, which was itself an indication that a mountain lion hadn’t been roaming the area.

“Had there been a lion that popped through there, you would never find a house cat. Those cats would have got out of there fast,” Davis said.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net