About half of California is mountain lion country, and that includes Monte Sereno. While attacks by mountain lions are extremely rare, these big cats can be dangerous. The California Department of Fish and Game has these suggestions for more safely coexisting with these marvelous animals.
LIVING WITH MOUNTAIN LIONS
DON'T FEED WILDLIFE: Wildlife in your yard may attract mountain lions that prey upon them.
KEEP PETS SECURE: Pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions. Keep pets inside and don't feed them outside.
LANDSCAPE FOR SAFETY: Avoid using plants that deer like to eat. If you attract deer, mountain lions may be close by. Remove vegetation that provides good hiding places for lions, especially around children's play areas.
INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Keep the perimeter of your house well lit at night…especially along walkways.
KEEP CHILDREN SAFE: Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about mountain lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.
ENCOUNTERING A MOUNTAIN LION
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Stay in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Mountain lions seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
DO NOT APPROACH A LION: Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation with humans. Give them a way to escape.
DO NOT RUN FROM A LION: Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the lion.
DO NOT CROUCH DOWN OR BEND OVER: A human standing up is just not the right shape for a big cat's prey, but when you squat or bend over you may look like a four-legged prey animal. Avoid squatting, crouching or bending over…even when picking up children.
DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER: Raise your arms and wave them slowly while speaking firmly in a loud voice. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: Mountain lions usually try to bite the head or neck. Try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and even their bare hands.
For more information, please visit the Department of Fish and Game (www.wildlife.ca.gov) or contact Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA at www.svaca.com) or by phone at (408) 764-0344.