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Wildlife Safety

We live in the natural habitat of a variety of wildlife, including mountain lions (AKA Cougars and Pumas), bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. All are reclusive and generally nocturnal. They tend to avoid human contact but may respond if provoked.

The following safety information is a compilation taken from wildlife managers, wildlife officers, and scientists that study mountain lion behavior. These strategies work with other wildlife as well. 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.

Mountain lions primarily eat deer, but, if allowed, they will prey on vulnerable pets. In extremely rare cases, even people have fallen prey to mountain lions.  Understanding mountain lion behavior and how to act responsibly in mountain lion country may greatly reduce potential conflict with these majestic animals. Help prevent unwanted conflicts with these beautiful wild animals. Do your part, keep them wild. 

TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID MOUNTAIN LIONS AND OTHER WILD ANIMALS:

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

  • Avoid hiking or jogging when wildfile are most active – dawn, dusk, and at night.

  • Keep a close watch on small children and small pets.

  • Don't startle wildlife; wear a bell or put a bell on your pet so that the wildlife is alerted before you get too close.

  • Off-leash dogs on trails are at increased risk of becoming prey for wildlife.

  • 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 wildlife, especially 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 to 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 ENCOUNTERING:

  • NEVER CORNER wildlife. Be sure to give them an escape route.

  • DO NOT RUN from wildlife. Stay calm. Running may trigger a "chase, catch, and kill" response.

  • FACE THE ANIMAL. Do not turn your back.

  • QUICKLY PICK UP small children and pets. Otherwise, do not crouch down or bend over. Squatting puts you in a vulnerable position of appearing much like a 4-legged prey animal.

  • APPEAR BIGGER by waving your arms, or opening your jacket if wearing one. Throw rocks or other small objects.

  • BE VOCAL: speak calmly and firmly, but do not use high-pitched tones or high-pitched screams. 

  • IF YOU SEE UNUSUAL MOUNTAIN LION BEHAVIOR, immediately call 911.

  • IF YOU SEE UNUSUAL WILDLIFE BEHAVIOR OTHER THAN MOUNTAIN LIONS, post on Nextdoor Burlingame Hills.

IF ATTACKED:

  • In the very rare case that a wild animal attacks you, 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 your head and neck. 

  • Immediately call 911.

A plan for living in Mountain Lion Country:

  • 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 any wildlife other than songbirds; 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, download A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

  • 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 your pets.

  • 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.

WILDLIFE AND POISON

Please NEVER use poison to deter unwanted animals.  Beneficial animals die from eating the poison or from eating a poisoned animal.

 

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