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Mountain Lion Sighting

 Photo of Mountain Lion by Sheila Brown; Location Unknown

Fresh tracks and sighting reported along Escondido Creek

Mountain Lion print found along Escondido Creek in Elfin Forest, March 2019

Part of living near and enjoying nature means being prepared for potential dangers. Fires, floods, and rattlesnakes are just some of the natural threats faced by those that live a life outdoors. Earlier this month, fresh mountain lion tracks were seen by our land managers and a sighting was reported by a local volunteer, all within a 2-mile stretch of the Escondido Creek near Elfin Forest. These sightings have raised excitement at the possibility that such a majestic creature is visiting our watershed, but there are also safety concerns. Based on the size of the tracks, we are speculating it is a young mountain lion, out seeking territory—a place for it to call home.

“Recreating outdoors means we are visiting the homes of wildlife. As good neighbors, we should be respectful and always cautious and aware of our surroundings,” says Conservancy Conservation Land Manager, Hannah Walchak. “It’s especially important to respect trail closures and stay out of wildlands between dusk and dawn, when animals are more active.”

While you’re much more likely to fall victim to a snake bite or be struck by lightning, understanding animal behavior can help reduce the risk of getting yourself into trouble. Going out in small groups is recommended and you may want to make noise on the trail so animals are warned of your presence and have time to flee.  Keep your headphones off while on the trail so you can stay aware of any creature or hazard that might cross your path.

Mountain Lion print found along Escondido Creek in Elfin Forest, February 2019

What do you do when you encounter a Mountain Lion?

While their existence as a predator species is important in our watershed, we shouldn’t get caught up in the excitement of seeing one in the wild or in our neighborhoods. Maintaining a healthy balance of fear between people and predators—like the mountain lion—protects humans and protects wildlife. If you encounter a mountain lion in wildlands and have small children or dogs with you, immediately pick them up. Make yourself appear larger and more threatening by making menacing sounds. Collect nearby rocks or sticks so that if they were to attack, you’re ready to fight back. Striking them may cause the animal to retreat.

If you see a mountain lion in or near your home, shout, bang pots, or use anything you can find that makes noise to scare them away. By being scary and loud, you may feel ridiculous, but you are really giving a gift to the mountain lion as its natural instinct is to be frightened of humans and, if it stays frightened, it’ll have a better chance of a long life in the wild.

If you do see signs of a mountain lion, please report them to [email protected] so we can keep the community updated.