A mountain lion that wandered near a shopping center in Southern California Friday morning died shortly after it was tranquilized by officials from California's Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The 2-year-old male cat was seen prowling near a Macy's at the Promenade Mall in Temecula at about 6 a.m., according to a witness who recorded video of the animal being taken away by officials.
"They tried to do the right thing, they have the training and equipment to do the right thing... and it doesn't always work out," said Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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Video of the incident showed the mountain lion breathing in the back of a pickup truck after officers picked it up off the ground.
"It was a big enough cat that you would certainly see it coming from a long ways away," said Joe Fanaselle, a witness who saw the cat before it died.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating if the mountain lion had pre-existing health conditions, said spokesman Kyle Orr, who noted mountain lions very rarely die after being darted.
When they do, it's because the dart damaged a sensitive area of the animal, like the spine, or if the lion has an allergic reaction to the tranquilizer used in the dart, he said.
A special forensic unit was examining the mountain lion in San Bernardino to learn more about its death, he added.
Wardens believe the lion may have found its way to the mall by using a nearby wash off Margarita Road.