Mountain lions: Two reports of cats seen in McKevett Heights, the Oaks

April 03, 2009
Santa Paula News

Wednesday and Thursday seem to be the preferred days that a mountain lion or lions are visiting area residential neighborhoods, with two sightings reported this week.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesWednesday and Thursday seem to be the preferred days that a mountain lion or lions are visiting area residential neighborhoods, with two sightings reported this week.The wild cats were reported last week – also on Wednesday and Thursday - in the Monterey Place area.On Wednesday, April 1 a cat was reported in the Cliff Drive/Forest Drive area of the Oaks at about 7:15 p.m. and about 12 hours later at 7:20 a.m. Thursday, another lion was reported in the McKevett Heights Road area.REVERSE 911® calls were placed to area residents in both instances.The sightings are just the latest in a series of confirmed and unconfirmed reports of mountain lions throughout the city, sightings that started mid-February.Police Chief Steve MacKinnon emphasizes that those who spot a mountain lion must call 9-1-1 immediately and if possible report the direction the animal is heading.Lt. Troyce Reynolds said although SPPD Officers were unable to confirm the two latest sightings “Both sounded like likely sightings and the people who reported them sounded like they knew what they were doing … if we confirm the presence of mountain lions we’ll just try to scare them back into the wild.”Although not having an exact number Lt. Reynolds said reports of mountain lion sightings are numerous: “We’re at the point there are so many calls that state Fish and Game won’t come out anymore … we call them every time but they said they would not respond unless there is some kind of issue,” such as a lion exhibiting aggressive behavior or unusual behavior.According to information offered at the recent Mountain Lion Foundation briefing for SPPD personnel, there are important do’s and don’ts and safety tips applicable to anyone who lives, works or plays anywhere in mountain lion country, where adult males can grow to 8-foot from nose to tip of the tail and up to 180 pounds if healthy with plenty to eat.Robin Parks of the MLF said some rules apply “Out in the woods in the boonies or when you come out your back door … ”Typically speaking lions are most active dusk to dawn but no matter what time it’s important to be aware of your surroundings.If you encounter a lion “Make noise, look big, be loud, make eye contact and stand your ground … do not,” Parks said, “crouch down” which in the lion’s mind could make you look like prey.
It is especially important not to run from a lion, which can reach sprint at speeds up to 50 mph.“There’s something in them, this response that gets triggered by motion and if you run away – like with dogs – they think I have to chase it … don’t run away, you’ll never ever outrun it.”Turning your back on a cat will just make things worse as they normally attack deer – their favorite food although when hungry anything will do - from the rear.“Most attack scenarios have been from the back” as mountain lions instinctively go for the neck where once reached they “crunch, puncture and tear … ”Parks said mountain lions hesitate to deal with the front of potential prey but if attacked “Fight like hell … it works. Many cat-human encounters” have ended when the attacked human fights back aggressively.“Do anything you can do and do anything with what you can find” as a weapon. “They respect that … and those who give up give in or are so intimidated” they can’t fight back “get killed … ”Parks noted “If you have a buddy with you it immediately drops the odds you’ll even be attacked … ”It is key to make sure your property is not mountain lion friendly with brush that offers a hiding place and pet food left out overnight that could attract prey, among other safety tips.“Dogs are no guarantee” that a mountain lion will pass by your home but Parks said “Having a big loud barking dog or even a small loud barking dog” can be effective as the wild cats “don’t like dogs. A good barking dog is a good thing but remember: it’s no match for a mountain lion. Don’t let dogs stay out overnight” to avoid being taken by a lion, which can easily bound over a 12-foot-high fence “with a deer in its mouth.”The SPPD recently distributed about 2,000 brochures with other mountain lion dos and don’ts and safety tips to residents living near wild lands.The brochure is available at the Santa Paula Police Station at 214 S. 10th Street and can also be downloaded from the city website:

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