Firefighters have rescued a mountain lion that was stuck in a tree outside a home in the California desert.

The homeowner called for help after spotting the cougar close to his home near the edge of the San Bernardino mountains.

The big cat was perched on a branch about 15m (50ft) above ground.

The cougar was about 15m (50ft) above the ground. Pic: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
The cougar was about 15m (50ft) above ground

State wildlife officials tranquillised the feline before San Bernardino County firefighters lowered the animal to the ground using a rescue harness.

The mountain lion was assessed by experts before being released back into the wild.

Rick Fischer, a warden for the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, said it was not uncommon for big cats to wander outside their habitat in the mountains nearby.

Attacks on humans remain rare – although the animals are known to prey on pets and livestock.

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Experts say young mountain lions are known to wander outside their normal habit in an attempt to establish their territory.

Pic: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
The animal was released back into the wild

Mr Fischer added: “Leaving the lion in the tree would not have been safe for the community.

“Once the lion regained consciousness we ensured he safely returned to his suitable habitat.”

The latest mountain lion incident comes days after a runner who was attacked by one of the animals in Colorado described how he wrestled it to the ground and jammed his foot on to its neck during a life-and-death struggle.