Mountain Lion Spotted Near Local School Brings Renewed Awareness
● By Steven Jack
About 50 percent of the land in California is consider natural habitat for mountain lions. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Another local report of a mountain lion in a residential area surfaced this week when residents in Cameron Park said they spotted one near two elementary schools.
After multiple sightings, school officials at Blue Oak Elementary and nearby Camerado Springs Middle School in Cameron Park put their buildings on soft-lockdown Thursday morning as wardens from the Department of Fish and Wildlife searched the area. After searching the area for several hours, the lion was never found, according to reports.
This latest sighting comes after a pack of mountain lions was caught on camera in late February as they walked across a residential lawn in Georgetown in the early morning hours.
The recent sightings are a reminder that, according to the DFW, half of California is natural mountain lion habitat. And while rare, mountain lion attacks on humans do occasionally occur.
Since 1986, there have been 14 verified mountain lion attacks on humans in California. The most recent occurred in September 2014 in Cupertino when a 6-year-old child was attacked.
The most recent fatal attack occurred in 2004 in Whiting Range Regional Park in Orange County in which a 35-year-old man was killed. Closer to home, a 40-year-old woman was killed by a mountain lion in April 1994 in the Auburn State Recreation Area.
While it is not in a mountain lion’s nature to prey on humans, the DFW does provide the following recommendations to keep them away from your home:
- Don’t feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
- Deer-proof your landscaping by avoiding plants that deer like to eat.
- Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
- Don’t leave small children or pets outside unattended.
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
- Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
- Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting potential mountain lion prey
For personal safety:
- Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
- Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
- Keep a close watch on small children.
- Do not approach a mountain lion.
- If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
- If attacked, fight back.
- If a mountain lion attacks a person, call 911.
Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife