The Thursday Picture – California is Mountain Lion Territory

mountain-lion-jr2012

A 6 year old boy was attacked by a Mountain Lion in one of our open space areas, the Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserves in the hills above Cupertino, California this week. At the time of this post, the boy is expected to recover from his injuries.

Even though almost half of California is Mountain Lion territory, attacks are very rare here in the Golden State. From the Santa Cruz Pumas Website (See the link below): “Before the attack on September 7th, the last attack anywhere near here was in Morgan Hill in 1909 when a rabid mountain lion attacked a woman and her child. Throughout our daily lives, we face many risks greater than being attacked by a mountain lion. For example, approximately 82 people are fatally struck by lightening each year. Between 2005 and 2013, 251 people were killed by domestic dogs in the US. In contrast, in the US and Canada between 1890 and 2004 (that’s 114 years), there were 88 mountain lion-related injuries, and 20 human fatalities associated with mountain lions.
Over half of California is mountain lion habitat, and many thousands of people recreate in mountain lion country each day without incident. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District estimates that its parks alone have an average of 5,400 visitors each day. That’s 2 million people walking, hiking, and biking in mountain lion country every year. People very seldom see them, let alone have a negative interaction with them. The big cat was acting unusually.” http://santacruzpumas.org/mountain-lion-faq/

The California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife located the Mountain Lion and ended up killing it because of its atypical behavior. Although I feel bad that the Mountain Lion was killed, the reality is that this particular Mountain Lion was acting unusually: It attacked a human. It attacked in the middle of the day. It attacked a small child that was in the immediate presence of several adults. I think that the DFW acted properly. What do you think the DFW should have done?

I’ve hiked several hundred miles in Northern California over the past several years. In fact, I hiked on this very same trail back in January. However, I’ve only seen foxes, black tail deer, rabbits and other small wildlife. I have seen a mountain lion once when I was hiking up in the Sierra Azul mountains. The mountain lion was crossing a road probably 150 yards from me. I know that I had passed a group of 3 black tailed deer about 30 minutes prior to seeing the big cat in the distance. Maybe this Mountain Lion was tracking the deer…who knows? I don’t think that this unusual incident will keep me off the trail.

Have you ever seen a large cat or bear while hiking?

Links:

Santa Cruz Pumas – http://santacruzpumas.org

Article from the San Jose Mercury News –
http://www.mercurynews.com/newsvideo?ndn.trackingGroup=90757&ndn.siteSection=mercurynews&ndn.videoId=26715173&freewheel=90757&sitesection=mercurynews&vid=26715173

Mid Peninsula Open Space District – http://www.openspace.org/preserves/pr_picchetti.asp

If you’re looking for me, I’m over the hill.

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