December 20, 2014

Mountain Lion Sightings

 

Dear Editor,

News tip: There was a mountain lion sighting on the Backbone Trail near Topanga Elementary around August 14. It was tagged. I thought this might be newsworthy and am also wondering if there's any information that would keep the lion safe and people relaxed about it.

I've also been seeing a lot of pine trees dying all over SoCal and especially in Topanga. You've probably already covered the story, but if not, I'd like to know how to protect the two 80-footers on my little piece of heaven at Top ‘O Topanga.

—Patrice Curedale

NPS Responds


If the person has a photo, we would definitely be interested in seeing it. In terms of addressing the issue for readers, I would say that the entire Santa Monica Mountains is lion country. Mountain lions are elusive animals that are rarely seen. I often refer people to the CA Fish & Wildlife's page called “Living in Mountain Lion Country” (wildlife.ca.gov‬) You should be able to easily Google it if you're interested.

—Kate Kuykendall, Public Affairs Officer, National Park Service

Rosi Dagit, Senior Biologist for the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, Responds

I agree with Kate that we have had lions around forever and hopefully that will continue to be true. Seth Riley can probably add more information, but we had another sighting on Saturday where a lion took a bunny on Valley View Drive. My suspicion is that they are looking for water and if an easy bunny is nearby, they will take advantage. As this drought continues, I fear we will see more incidents where lions and other wildlife desperate for water and food will come calling.

As for the pines, there has been a bark beetle hitting the old Monterey Pines for years in Topanga and it becomes more noticeable with the drought. No good solution, as many of these pines are reaching the end of their life cycle, which for this species, is somewhere around 60-100 years in the L.A. Basin. Of course, exceptions are always possible. Many of these trees were planted in the 1950s because the Fire Department used to hand out free ones for slope protection and erosion control.

Spray treatments are available but very expensive, not 100 percent effective and have potential for lots of side effects. The best option to help failing trees is to water them.

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME (wildlife.ca.gov)

Living in Mountain Lion Country


• 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.

STAYING SAFE IN MOUNTAIN LION COUNTRY

Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people. Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare. However, conflicts are increasing as California’s human population expands into mountain lion habitat.

• 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.