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Fending off mountain lions: Be proactive, and make yourself big

Mountain lions are common in foothill areas.
Mountain lions are common in foothill areas.
xandert on MorgueFile

In the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, where communities of humans overlap with communities of wildlife, it isn’t unusual to spot a mountain lion lounging on the grass or slinking down the street. As conditions in the mountains are less hospitable due to drought and wildfire, a backyard pool, a well-fed dog, or even food and garbage left out is attractive to cougars.

Though attacks on humans are rare, they are known to occur--a homeless man in Perris was injured in an attack just this past weekend--and may be on the increase, according to Simi Trailblazers, but there are ways to minimize contact between civilization and wildcats, and to protect oneself when it occurs.

The Burbank Police Department sent via Nixle the following safety tips from the California Department of Fish and Game following a mountain lion sighting in Burbank on Jan. 29, 2014. This followed the deaths of several large dogs in the Glendale area in December, which were attributed to mountain lions.

  • Do not feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
  • Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
  • Do not allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active-dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums, and other potential mountain lion prey.
  • Do not leave small children or pets outside unattended.
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
  • Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active-dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • 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, immediately call 911.

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