Some Lake Mission Viejo residents woke up to an unusual sight over the weekend: a big mountain lion walking around in their yard and then going for a leisurely dip in the lake.

Resident Valerie Strowski said she was woken up by a loud thud outside her lakeside home around 1:20 a.m. Saturday.

Her husband checked their surveillance camera and saw that a mountain lion was in their backyard. 

The big cat hung out on the couple’s dock for about 15 minutes before walking along the lakeside and then diving in for a swim.

Residents called the Orange County Sheriff’s Office after spotting the wild animal near their homes, and deputies arrived at the scene to find the mountain lion swimming across the lake.

“Saw it looking in the water and I thought there’s no way, there’s no way it’s going to do this — but I had a really weird feeling it was — and it dove into the water,” Strowski said.

Mission Viejo Animal Services said they are keeping an eye out for the mountain lion and checking surveillance footage in the area.

Residents in the area were advised not to crouch down or run away if they come face-to-face with a mountain lion, Animal Services said.

Mountain lions are solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people by nature.

It’s not known why mountain lions venture out to neighborhoods, but wildlife experts say that as the human population expands into mountain lion habitat, there will be more frequent sightings. 

In recent years, there have been increasing interactions between people and mountain lions, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The agency offers this advice to any Californian who encounters a mountain lion:

  • Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.
  • Do not run. Stay calm. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger.
  • Do not crouch down or bend over.

People who live in mountain lion habitat can take precautions to reduce their risk of encountering a mountain lion by:

  • Deer-proof their property to avoid attracting a lion’s main food source.
  • Remove dense vegetation from around the home to reduce hiding spaces.
  • Install outdoor lighting to make it difficult for mountain lions to approach unseen.
  • Secure livestock and outdoor large pets in sturdy, covered shelters at night.