SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – Are the Bay Area mountain lions retreating from the Santa Cruz Mountains to urban sprawl?
Over the past week, mountain lions have been caught in the shadow of surveillance cameras in Millbrae. A handful of residents in Oakland Hills and Piedmont said they saw mutilated deer carcasses in their neighborhood. One wildcat was even caught in a tree in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood three weeks ago and transported to the Oakland Zoo, while another broke into a San Bruno house filled with game trophies a week later.
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More than half of the state is Mountain Lion Territory, and it’s not uncommon for them to show up in unexpected places, according to officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The species usually migrates during the dry season in search of plenty of food and water, but it could travel farther than usual as drought conditions increase and deer populations decline, department spokesman Ken Paglia said.
“Be aware that we share the state with other wildlife, like mountain lions or bears, they are nearby. Although they can be potentially dangerous, they are usually in town looking for sources of food and not there to harm us, ”Paglia said.
However, despite recent sightings, it is rare to be attacked by a mountain lion, Paglia said. He suggests that Bay Area residents should call their local law enforcement agencies whenever they see a wildcat in a residential area, and those agencies can then contact wildlife agencies if they believe it poses a public safety risk . The main goal in these cases is to get the wildlife back into its natural habitat without much human intervention, he said.
“We want to make sure the public is safe, but we also want the animal to live its life in its own habitat. That is probably the best solution, ”said Paglia.
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According to experts, the mountain lion population is also estimated at just under thousands. Because of this, there has been a recent push to put the species on the endangered species list, and law enforcement agencies are prohibited from killing a mountain lion unless it is actively endangering human life or property.
According to Rebecca Dmytryk of Humane Wildlife Control, there are ways to keep large predators from roaming around a neighborhood, and it starts with thinking about what will attract small prey to your property. Unwanted wildlife in an urban area is not something “to kill yourself with,” she says.
“Nature is always in balance. When we bring in these man-made, man-made resources like pastures, orchids, or domesticated animals like sheep, we are putting those man-made resources out to the public and they need to be protected, ”said Dmytryk.
Installing motion center lights around the property, keeping pets indoors at night, and storing food appropriately are some of the ways residents can avoid encounters with mountain lions. You can find more tips and tricks from the Mountain Lion Foundation at issuu.com/mountainlionfoundation/docs/cdfw–mlf–conflict–brochure– booklet–final–2020.
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