Azusa mountain lion a familiar sight to wildlife videographer

AZUSA, Calif. (KABC) -- The mountain lion who popped up in Azusa on Monday is now roaming far from residential neighborhoods deep in the Angeles National Forest.

Although this was the mountain lion's first appearance in an Azusa backyard, he's been seen before.

A trail camera caught the Azusa mountain lion back in April of last year. The images were shot by wildlife videographer Robert Martinez who tracks the mountain lion population living in the hills above Azusa and Glendora.

"I have about 13 to 15 cameras spread out over a 10 square-mile area. Most of them are video and three take still photos. All motion-activated," said Martinez.

When Martinez saw this same mountain lion try to enter an Azusa home on Monday, he recognized its cloudy right eye. After checking his footage and talking with California Fish and Wildlife, he was able to make the connection.

"I was surprised to see him in the backyard, trying to paw to get into the house. I'm still not sure what he was doing. My guess was he was really scared, desperate to hide. I knew he wasn't there to hurt people or attack people," said Martinez.

California Fish and Wildlife says the animal's white eye is a sign the lion is blind from old age. The big cat is over 10 years old according to the department, which says the capture and release went as smooth as it could have.

"It's hard not to fall in love with these big cats and be protective over them, and advocate for them and spread awareness to other people. Show them there's nothing to be afraid of and we coexist every day. I'm out there in their territory right where they sit, eat. I feel safe as can be out there. I never feel threatened," said Martinez.

Besides his white eye, the Azusa mountain lion now has another recognizable feature. He's been tagged by Fish and Wildlife for the first time.
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