By Interpretive Naturalist Wendy Langhans:
Mountain lions are crepuscular predators, which means they are most active at dawn, dusk and nighttime. They are solitary hunters and are territorial. Most local mountain lions territories range in size from 40 square miles (females) to 150 square miles (males).
Although deer are their primary source of food, they will also eat raccoons, rabbits and birds. And on very rare occasions, have been known to attack people.
But, over the course of almost 150 years, there have only been 16 documented cases of mountain lion attacks on people in California. Your odds of being struck by lightening are 1000 times greater than being attacked by a mountain lion.
We also have to remember to give credit to the mountain lions, and remember that they play an important role in our ecosystem. They keep our deer, raccoon, and rabbit population in check.
But because more than half of California is mountain lion habitat, it was only a matter of time until mountain lions came out into our community. Another reason sightings are more common is because our valley is going through a drought, and many herbivores come to our landscaped homes in search of water. The mountain lion will follow its prey, even if its near civilization.
If you were to see a mountain lion:
DO Stand Tall- Mountain lions will be intimidated if you appear larger
DO Yell- If you make a lot of noise, you have a good chance of scaring the animal
DO NOT Hike Alone- Most mountain lions will feel outnumbered and will not confront you
DO NOT Run- Almost all animals are instinct based, and if you run, their natural tendency is to chase.
If you have livestock and pets on your property, here are a few steps to prevent a future attack.
1.) Put livestock and pets inside at night
2.) Clear brush- eliminates hiding or living areas for wild animals
3.) Install outdoor lighting, preferably motion activated- this will scare most of the wild animals away
4.) Put your garbage away- this will keep the raccoons and coyotes out, which mountain lions hunt
According to the California Department of Fish and Game, “More than half of California is Mountain Lion habitat”. This includes the Santa Clarita Valley. So stay humble and take proper precautions to protect your pets, your livestock and yourselves.
If you have a wild animal problem, you can call the Department of Fish and Game, who has a dedicated line for this matter at 858-467-4226.