A mountain lion found wandering outside a mall in Temecula died shortly after being tranquilized by wardens who were trying to move the big cat to a safer location Friday.
Wardnes were contacted by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department about a mountain lion at The Promenade in Temecula (map) just after 6 a.m., according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Kyle Orr.
Wardens found the cougar in a loading bay outside of the Macy's department store when they arrived a short time later, Orr said.
The wardens determined the lion, which was estimated to be about 2 years old and weighed close to 125 pounds, needed to be moved away from the mall where people were beginning to arrive for work, Orr said.
Orr stressed that the mountain lion was not acting aggressively but was in an unsafe area.
The big cat was tranquilized and loaded into a truck, but died at some point while it was being transported, Orr said.
“The animal had no access to open to space. The decision to move it was the right one, but it’s unfortunate that it died,” Orr said.
Male mountain lions can have a range in excess of 200 square miles and the cougar may have been moving through the area for a number of reasons, according to Orr.
“A lot of times they’re seeking habitat for themselves and the suitable habitat has been taken. So they range into what would be, for a mountain lion, unsuitable,” Orr said.
Although it's always unfortunate, it's not extremely unusual for an animal to die after being tranquilized, according to Orr.
A necropsy will be done on the lion to determine the cause of death.
KTLA's Melissa Pamer contributed to this report.