Barbara Miller used to routinely take her dog on evening walks by the river near her home — but not anymore. About eight to 10 weeks ago, Miller and some neighbors say they spotted a mountain lion roaming in a field near a river. But by the time she'd found her camera, hoping to capture a picture of the elusive creature, it was gone.
Miller isn't the only person who claims to have seen a mountain lion in Lodi. City officials canvassed the Lodi Lake Nature Area after a visitor believed they spotted a mountain lion Monday evening.
While all recent reports have been unconfirmed, spotters are convinced at least one creature is roaming nearby.
"I don't walk at night anymore," she said. "I used to take walks at night with my dog and feel perfectly safe. But now I don't."
Miller, who lives at Casa de Lodi in the 800 block of East Turner Road near Highway 99, first saw the cat sitting in a grassy field early one morning. But within moments, the mountain lion scurried away.
Miller asked some people standing nearby if they'd seen anything. And they did.
"They all agreed with me that it was a mountain lion," Miller said.
Near her rural home just west of Lodi in February, Vickie Manaois saw an animal in her pasture about 40 yards away. With a closer look, she recognized it as a mountain lion. But within seconds it ran toward a neighbor's fence, hopped over it and was gone.
Manaois and her husband, Ernie Manaois, warned their neighbors, some of whom were a little skeptical.
But two days later, the couple heard a screech, which, they said, was unmistakably from a mountain lion.
"It was a sound you don't ever hear," Ernie Manaois said. "I know what I heard."
It was only three weeks ago when a couple living near the Manaoises believe they saw a mountain lion, as well.
Every once and a while, the Manaoises are given reasons to believe a mountain lion is still nearby. They've seen a large flock of jackrabbits running from their vineyard.
Like Miller, the Manaoises are taking precautions by locking and securing their surrounding gates.
"We've been very wary," Ernie Manaois said.
City officials have made small changes since Monday's unconfirmed sighting at Lodi Lake. A sign warning people not to walk alone is hanging from the nature area entrance.