Two California Highway Patrol pilots were being hailed as heroes Friday after they used their helicopter to drive away a mountain who was stalking a hiker in the Sierra foothills.
The incident took place over the weekend when a hiker made a frantic 911 call to report he was being stalked by a mountain lion on the popular Stevens Trail near the Placer County community of Colfax.
A CHP helicopter was quickly dispatched to the scene with officers Monty Emery and David White aboard.
The hiker was spotted waving a flashlight with the mountain lion standing just 20 feet away. Emery and White decided to make a low pass and see if that would scare the mountain lion away. The flyby worked and the big cat ran deeper into the woods.
“I've never scared off a mountain lion before using a helicopter," Emery said.
“I shudder to think what would have happened if he the hiker wouldn't have had a cell phone or something to call for help, “White added.
A short time later, a state game warden went into the area to post signs warning hikers about a mountain lion sighting when he noticed the animal.
Fish and wildlife spokesman Mark Michilizzi tells the Sacramento Bee appeared prepared to pounce on the warden, who then shot and killed it.
Michilizzi called the warden's actions appropriate, saying the mountain lion was a risk to the warden and the public.
A necropsy is planned to try to help officials determine what may have prompted the animal's behavior.