Firefighters have rescued a mountain lion from a tree outside a house in the southern California desert.

The homeowner called authorities after spotting the cougar close to his home near the edge of the San Bernardino Mountains.

San Bernardino County firefighters found the large cat perched on a branch about 50ft high.

Cougar RescuedThe mountain lion was tranquillised before being rescued (Rick Fischer/AP)

State wildlife personnel tranquillised the animal and firefighters lowered it to the ground using a rescue harness.

A biologist evaluated the cougar before it was released back into the wild.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Rick Fischer said it is not uncommon for mountain lions to wander outside their habitat in the nearby mountains.

Attacks on humans are rare but the big cats will prey on pets and livestock.