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Mountain Lion FAQ

Question:  I want to know when there is a mountain lion on my property so that I can protect my livestock. Will you send me regular updates on mountain lions in my area?

Answer:  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife does not allow us to share real time information on mountain lion locations with the public.  However, we do post delayed tracking data on the collared mountain lions to the puma tracker app on our website a couple times a year.

Question:  I think a mountain lion killed my goat/sheep.  What are my options?

Answer:  Mountain lions do kill goats and sheep.  This doesn’t necessarily mean they will become a regular nuisance to your livestock, however.  We’ve seen it go both ways with our study animals.  Some will move on never to return again.  Others might come back on a regular basis.  We’re not sure why.  The only thing you can do to insure that this will not happen again, is to make sure your goats/sheep are in a lion proof enclosure at night.  If this is not an option, you can legally kill the offending lion as long as you call the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife to receive a depredation permit.

Question:  How do I protect my goats and sheep?

Answer:  The best way to ensure that your livestock are protected is to bring them into a predator proof enclosure at night.  This needs to be a sturdy enclosure with a roof.  Mountain lions are very good climbers and can easily scale many fences.  More techniques for protecting livestock are available here.

Question:  I’ve seen a mountain lion, should I contact you?

Answer:  We love to hear about your sightings.  If you see something that you think might interest us, definitely send us an email.  What we are most interested in, however, are opportunities to capture and collar mountain lions.  This can be greatly facilitated by finding fresh kills.  If you think you’ve found a fresh lion kill and wouldn’t mind us trapping the lion on your property, please contact us ASAP by emailing Chris at cwilmers at ucsc dot edu.  We’ve successfully trapped a number of mountain lions this way.  It helps our project immensely and provides a great opportunity for you to see and learn about mountain lions.

Question:  How can I recognize a mountain lion kill?

Answer:  After killing a deer, mountain lions generally drag them under a tree and cover them with leaves, duff, and twigs.  This prevents other carnivores from finding and usurping their kills, as well as acting as a natural cooler to keep carcasses fresh.  A mountain lion will usually spend one to 5 days feeding on a carcass.

Question:  Do mountain lions cache carcasses in trees?

Answer:  Some large cats, such as leopards, cache carcasses in trees, however there are no verified accounts of mountain lions caching deer in trees.

Question:  I’m worried about my safety and the safety of my children.  How often are people attacked by mountain lions and what can I do to protect myself?

Answer:  Mountain lions sightings are infrequent, while attacks are even more rare.  The last attack anywhere near here was in Morgan Hill in 1909 when a rabid mountain lion attacked a woman and her child.  There are many other risks that are much more likely to be an issue for humans than being attacked by a mountain lion.  For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 4.7 million dog-human incidents occurred in 1994, resulting in 12 to 17 human fatalities.  The CDC reports that approximately 82 people are fatally struck by lightening each year.  In contrast, between 1890 and 2004 in Canada and the United States combined, there were 20 mortalities associated with mountain lions, and 88 mountain lion-related injuries.

This is what the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends to stay safe in Mountain Lion country:

  • Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Keep a close watch on small children.
  • 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.

Around the home…

  • Don’t feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
  • Deer-proof your landscaping by avoiding plants that deer like to eat. For tips, request A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage from DFG offices.
  • Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
  • Don’t leave small children or pets outside unattended.
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
  • Provide sturdy, covered shelters for sheep, goats, and other vulnerable animals.
  • Don’t 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.

For more information from the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife, click here.