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Mountain lion seen strolling the neighborhood

Residents aren’t the only ones strolling Jackson Street or hiking its adjacent hillside; many have shared the road and trails with a mountain lion.

The lion has appeared in backyards and driveways and seems unfazed by human contact.

The sightings began last fall and have continued through winter. It’s thought that the lion comes from the hillside to visit Dellinger’s Pond as part of his nightly sojourn.

“Our dogs bark every evening around dusk,” said Beth Waterston, who resides on the west end of Jackson Street.

Last week residents on West Main Street, just two blocks west of the courthouse, were in their side yard at about 8:30 p.m. when a mountain lion jumped over the fence, sauntered by them, walked down the driveway to Main Street, turned west and walked back up the adjacent neighbor’s driveway.

The week prior, a resident observed the mountain lion in front of her home on Old Meadow Valley Road when she returned from work around 6 p.m. Old Meadow Valley Road spurs off of Bucks Lake Road across from Dellinger’s Pond.

Another neighbor, Bob Schultz, who also resides on Old Meadow Valley Road, encountered a mountain lion while walking on the hillside behind his house.

His wife, Sue, recalled that he had taken their dog, Darby, on a walk in mid December, when suddenly the dog stopped, sat and bristled.

“There was a mountain lion really close, staring at them,” she said. Eventually the mountain lion wandered off and Bob and his dog continued up the narrow path.

Another resident was walking with his children in the same area when he felt a presence and turned to see a mountain lion trailing them. A warning shot did nothing to deter the lion, who continued to follow, and the family took a shortcut home.

A mountain lion, presumably the same one, has been captured on video. Johnny Mansell, who lives with his family near Dellinger’s Pond, has footage of the large cat from last November and in January of this year.

Mansell said that he was alerted to the lion’s presence via an app on his mobile phone Jan. 20 and walked out his front door as the lion made its way down his driveway toward the road. “I yelled and threw snowballs at it,” Mansell said. “It just turned and looked at me and didn’t react. Then he just kept walking away.”

Bob Schultz has viewed the video and said it is of the same size, and moves in the same manner as the one he observed during his hillside walk.

California Fish &Wildlife advice

Lt. Kyle Kroll, of California Fish and Wildlife, has seen the video, as well as stills from another area resident’s game camera, and said that it could be the same lion.

And based on its size and shape, he thinks it’s a male.

Kroll said it’s not surprising that there have been numerous sightings of a lion, because deer live in the area and are frequently seen heading to Dellinger’s Pond.

“Anywhere you see deer, it could be mountain lion habitat,” Kroll said.

Lions will also remain in an area if there is another readily available food source.

“Feral cats will keep lions in an area,” he said and cautioned that residents should keep their house pets inside, especially at dawn and dusk.

It’s the same advice that he gives to parents with small children. “Keep the kids inside at dawn and dusk and practice extra caution.”

“They are mostly nocturnal,” Kroll said of the mountain lions.

While attacks on humans are rare, they do occur.

Understanding mountain lion behavior and how to act responsibly in mountain lion country may greatly reduce potential conflicts.

Residents can report mountain lion encounters by calling 888-334-2258 or 911 in an emergency situation.

If you have seen a mountain lion in your neighborhood or have a photo, please send the information to [email protected].

Living in mountain lion country

   The following information is provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

– Acknowledge that you live in mountain lion country and make a commitment to educate yourself.

– Talk to your neighbors and work together.

– Never feed deer or other wildlife; it is illegal to feed deer and other big game 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 CDFW 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.

What to do if you encounter a mountain lion

   According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, although no strategy in the event of an encounter is guaranteed to be successful in every situation, these tips will help keep you safe in lion country.

– Do not hike, bike or jog alone. Stay alert on trails.

– Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active — dawn, dusk and at night.

– Keep a close watch on small children.

– Off leash dogs on trails are at increased risk of becoming prey for a mountain lion.

– Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.

– DO NOT RUN. Stay calm. Running may trigger chase, catch and kill response. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms, or opening your jacket if wearing one; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.

– Do not crouch down or bend over. Squatting puts you in a vulnerable position of appearing much like a 4-legged prey animal.

– Be vocal; however, speak calmly and do not use high pitched tones or high pitch screams.

– Teach others how to behave during an encounter. Anyone who runs may initiate an attack.

– Carry and know how to use bear spray to deter a mountain lion. Bear spray has been shown to be successful in emergency situations with mountain lions. Have the spray readily accessible. Carry in a holster belt or attach to a mountain bike. Talk to the folks at your local outdoor store. Make sure you know how to properly use bear spray. People have been known to spray their own faces when attempting to use it.

– If a lion attacks, fight back. Research on mountain lion attacks suggests that many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, garden tools, even an ink pen or bare hands. Try to stay on your feet. If knocked down, try to protect head and neck.

– If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.

– Report unusual mountain lion behavior to your local CDFW regional office.

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