Source: Valley Roadrunner

Mountain lions in Valley Center

by Ray Flores

September 17, 2013

This past Saturday, Sept. 14, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture given by Winston Vicker, assistant wildlife veterinarian from the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, and hosted by The Friends of Hell Hole Canyon. It was a very informative lecture and slide show of the current status of mountain lions in our local area.

Yes, we do have mountain lions in Valley Center, and oddly enough just this past week one of our local citizens spotted one of these elusive cats near the intersection of Woods Valley and Valley Center roads. It seems we are on one of their regular migratory paths. Your chances of running into one of these animals is probably very slim but should you encounter a mountain lion here is some advice on what to do as a precaution:

Be Aware

— Don’t go alone

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

— Keep children close

— Carry a walking stick, air horns, pepper spray, etc., or get your dog to earn his upkeep by taking him with you. None of these methods are a guarantee.

If you come across a mountain lion, Vicker suggests that you do not run. Instead, face the animal, make noise and try to make yourself look bigger by waving your arms. Throw rocks or anything else that is available and be sure to pick up small children. If possible, gain a height advantage. Attract all the attention you can. There is safety in numbers, the more people you are with the safer you are. Draw a crowd. If you need to, back up but do so slowly. Fight back if you are attacked, most attacks are not fatal. Remember to not run. Mountain lions are predators; don’t act like prey.

In perspective

• 5 mountain lion attacks in California since 1996

• 25 deaths from horse-related incidents

• 200 fatalities annually from deer collisions with vehicles

• 28 deaths due to cows per year

There have only been 5 attacks by mountain lions against humans in California since 1996. Only one of these attacks was fatal, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website. Your risk of being killed by a mountain lion is very low, especially if you heed expert advice.