Grainy, poor-quality surveillance footage showing the slow gait of a large cat-like animal walking along a street in densely populated Norwalk has created a mystery.
At first, the person who saw the animal early Tuesday thought it was a mountain lion, but that theory has been discounted by state wildlife officials, City Manager Jeff Hobbs said Friday afternoon.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s “undisputed expert” determined the animal shown in the video is not a cougar, Hobbs wrote in an email headlined “‘That’s No Mountain Lion,’ Says CA Dept Fish & Wildlife Expert.”
“Department officials still cannot definitively identify the type of animal. They will continue to investigate,” Hobbs wrote.
A mountain lion sighting was reported about 3:45 a.m. in the 11000 block of Tina Street (map), according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department lieutenant. That’s the time shown in the video footage, dated Tuesday.
The densely populated residential area not far from the junction of the 5 and 605 freeways is some 20 miles from typical foothill mountain lion habitat.
The footage, which shows an animal with a large, curving tail, was posted on the city’s Facebook page Friday.
A lion expert told the Los Angeles Times the animal in the footage resembled an African lion.
State game warden Don Nelson, who examined the video for the state wildlife department along with predator ecologist Becky Pierce, told the Times he thought the video showed a “large older dog, maybe a pit bull or part pit bull.”
A representative of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife visited the neighborhood where the animal was spotted to speak to residents about what to do if they see the animal again, Hobb said.
Sheriff’s Department patrol was elevated in the area, he added.