If You Encounter A pear Larger: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if Mountain Lion you are wearing one. Again, pick up small chil- California Department of dren. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you There’s been very little research on how to avoid can reach without crouching or turning your back. Fish & Game Offices mountain lion attacks. But mountain lion attacks that have occurred are being analyzed in the hope that some crucial questions can be an- Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a dan- Northern California-North Coast Region Living With (530) 225-2300 swered: Did the victim do something to inad- vertently provoke an attack? What should a per- son who is approached by a mountain lion do— ger to it. •Fight Back If Attacked: A hiker in Southern Cali- Sacramento Valley-Central Sierra Region (916) 358-2900 California or not do? The following suggestions are based fornia used a rock to fend off a mountain lion on studies of mountain lion behavior and analy- sis of attacks by mountain lions, tigers and leop- ards: that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, gar- den tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain Central Coast Region (707) 944-5500 Mountain Lions lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to •Do Not Hike Alone: Go in groups, with adults remain standing and face the attacking animal. San Joaquin Valley-Southern Sierra Region supervising children. (559) 243-4005 •Keep Children Close To You: Observations of Immediately Report All Encounters or Attacks: South Coast Region captured wild mountain lions reveal that the If you are involved in a face-to-face encounter with, (858) 467-4201 animals seem especially drawn to children. or an attack by, a mountain lion, contact the Cali- Keep children within your sight at all times. fornia Department of Fish and Game 24 hour dis- Eastern Sierra-Inland Deserts Region patch center at (916) 445-0045. The threat to pub- (562) 590-5132 •Do Not Approach a Lion: Most mountain lions lic safety will be assessed and any appropriate ac- will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a tion will be taken. Also report any sightings of dead Bishop Office way to escape. or injured mountain lions. (760) 872-1171 •Do Not Run From a Lion: Running may stimu- Eureka Office late a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, (707) 445-6493 stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them Visit the up if possible so they don’t panic and run. Al- California Department of Fish and Game though it may be awkward, pick them up with- out bending over or turning away from the Online at: mountain lion. www.dfg.ca.gov •Do Not Crouch Down or Bend Over: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and do- mestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He sur- mised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat’s prey. On the other hand, California Department of a person squatting or bend- ing over looks a lot like a four- Fish & Game legged prey animal. If you’re in 1416 Ninth Street mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bend- Sacramento, California 95814 ing over, even when picking up children. •Do All You Can To Ap- California Mountain Lions Mountain lion kittens, or cubs, are covered with Living in Lion Country blackish-brown spots and have dark rings around Now that people and mountain lions occupy so About half of California is prime mountain lion much of the same geographical areas in Califor- country. This simple fact is a surprise to many their tails. The markings fade as they mature. Mountain Lion nia, encounters are expected to increase. If you residents and visitors. These large, powerful live in mountain lion habitat, here’s what you Behavior: Mountain lions are very powerful and nor- Track predators have always lived here, preying on deer can do to reduce your chances of encountering and other wildlife, and playing an important role mally prey upon large animals, such as deer, big- horn sheep and elk. However, they can survive prey- a mountain lion near your home: in the ecosystem. ing on small animals as well. •Don’t Feed Wildlife: By feeding deer, raccoons The status of the mountain lion in California or other wildlife in your yard, you will inad- evolved from that of “bountied predator” between They usually hunt alone, at night. They prefer to ambush their prey, often from behind. They usually vertently attract mountain lions, which prey 1907 and 1963, meaning monetary incentives upon them. were offered for every mountain lion killed, to kill with a powerful bite below the base of the skull, “game mammal” in 1969, to “special protected breaking the neck. They often cover the carcass with dirt, leaves or snow and may come back to feed on •Deer-proof Your Landscape: Avoid using plants mammal” in 1990. The change in legal status re- that deer prefer to eat; if your landscaping at- flected growing public appreciation and concern it over the course of a few days. Their generally se- cretive and solitary nature is what makes it possible tracts deer, mountain lions may be close by. for mountain lions. The California Department of Fish and Game for humans to live in mountain lion country with- out ever seeing a mountain lion. has a brochure entitled “Gardening To Discour- You may live or play in mountain lion country. age Deer Damage” available at most DFG of- Like any wildlife, mountain lions can be danger- fices. ous. People who live in or visit mountain habitat have a responsibility to the wildlife whose habi- Generally, mountain lions Dog Track •Landscape For Safety: Remove dense and/or tat they share. It is important for people to un- low-lying vegetation that would provide good derstand mountain lions so that we can coexist are calm, quiet and elusive. hiding places for mountain lions, especially with these magnificent animals. around children’s play areas; make it difficult for mountain lions to approach your yard un- Habitat: Mountain lions live in many different types seen. Some Facts About of habitat in California, from deserts to humid coast Note the obvious toenail prints for dogs that range forests, and from sea level to 10,000 foot el- are absent for mountain lions. Also the lion Mountain Lions evations. They generally will be most abundant in track has a distinctive “M” shaped pad. Teach children what to do if they Physical appearance: The mountain lion, com- areas with plentiful deer. encounter a mountain lion. monly known as cougar, panther or puma, is tawny-colored with black-tipped ears and tail. Al- Home Range: An adult male’s home range often though smaller than the jaguar, it is one of North •Install Outdoor Lighting: Keep the perimeter America’s largest cats. spans over 100 square miles. Females generally use When Mountain Lions of your house well lit at night—especially along smaller areas—about twenty to sixty square miles. Along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, where Meet People walkways—to keep any approaching mountain Adult males may be more than 8 feet long, from competition for habitat is intense, as many as ten lions visible. Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet and elu- nose to end of tail, and generally weigh between adult lions occupy the same 100 square mile area. sive. They are most commonly found in areas with 130 and 150 pounds. Adult females can be 7 feet •Keep Pets Secure: Roaming pets are easy prey plentiful prey and adequate cover. Such conditions long and weigh between 65 and 90 pounds. Population: In California, mountain lion populations for hungry mountain lions. Either bring pets exist in mountain subdivisions, urban fringes and have grown since the 1920s when they were pur- inside or keep them in a kennel with a secure open spaces. Consequently, the number of moun- sued by bounty hunters. Population estimates, top. Don’t feed pets outside; this can attract tain lion/human interactions has increased. This based on field studies of mountain lions, revealed a raccoons and other mountain lion prey. increase likely is due to a variety of reasons: more population of more than 2,000 mountain lions in people moving into mountain lion habitat, an in- the 1970s. Today’s population estimate ranges be- •Keep Livestock Secure: Where practical, place crease in prey populations, more people using hik- tween 4,000-6,000. livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, ing and running trails in mountain lion habitat, and and be sure to secure all outbuildings. a greater awareness of the presence of mountain Mortality: A mountain lion’s natural life span is prob- lions. ably about 12 years in the wild and up to 25 years in •Keep Children Safe: Keep a close watch on chil- captivity. Natural enemies include other large preda- dren whenever they play outdoors. Make sure Even so, the potential for being killed or injured by tors such as bears, lions and, at one time in Califor- children are inside before dusk and not out- a mountain lion is quite low compared to many nia, wolves. They also fall victim to accidents, dis- side before dawn. Talk with children about other natural hazards. There is a far greater risk, ease, road hazards and people. mountain lions and teach them what to do if for example, of being struck by lightning than of they encounter one. being attacked by a mountain lion.
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