Mountain lions spotted in Lorenzo, Ralls - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Mountain lions spotted in Lorenzo, Ralls

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Lorenzo Police Chief Henry Benitez says his training did not prepare him to handle mountain lions, but during patrol early Wednesday morning, he spotted one.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 reported about mountain lion sightings in Lamb, Bailey and Hockley Counties in late August.  Now, in the past two weeks, lions have been sighted in Crosby County.

"I saw it cross the road, but what was weird - it sat on the embankment and just perched and was watching me," Benitez said.

Sightings have been reported in Lorenzo since early September, but now there have been at least six reported sightings in the last week.

"Numerous reports in backyards, of what seemed to be a large cat with a tail," Benitez said, "walking through alleys and yards and then also reports of a large cat crossing 62/82 in the city limits of Lorenzo."

Lorenzo Police Officer Daniel Patterson also spotted the cat.  The animal was seen back behind a home.

"It was large and it moved pretty quickly.  It was smooth.  Coyotes kind of trot along as they run away, but this was smooth.  You watched his back and it didn't look like he was running, except for his legs," Patterson said.

Just down the road in Ralls, city officials have been setting out traps, hoping to catch a mountain lion spotted there. Last week, Ralls Elementary School opted to close their recess and not allow students outside because of the mountain lion sighting.

In Lorenzo, Chief Benitez has stepped up his officer patrols.

"Maybe see if we can see what its habits are, where it's trailing through, and just kind of keep an eye on what's going on," Benitez said.

Game and wildlife experts say lions can travel up to 300 miles while roaming.  They are venturing into more populated areas, looking for food and water. While mountain lions aren't known to attack people, Benitez says it's important for residents to be prepared.

"We don't want people to start going out on safari hunts and trying to discharge firearms inside the city limits - that's the most dangerous thing you could do," Benitez said.

The best thing to do if you see a mountain lion is to go indoors and contact authorities.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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