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A reader from America, Allison Blackham has sent in the following advice about Pumas issued by her local authority
LIVING WITH CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LIONS
About half of California is prime mountain lion habitat. This fact is a
surprise to many residents and visitors. These large, powerful predators have always lived
here, preying on deer and other wildlife, and playing an important role in the ecosystem.
SOME FACTS ABOUT MOUNTAIN LIONS
The mountain lion, also known as cougar, panther or puma, is tawny-colored with black
tipped ears and tail. Although smaller than the jaguar, it is one of North America's
Mountain lions are very powerful and normally prey upon large animals, such as deer,
bighorn sheep and elk. However, they can survive preying on small animals as well. They
usually hunt alone, at night. They prefer to ambush their prey, often from behind. They
usually kill with a powerful bite below the base of the skull, breaking the neck. They
often cover the carcass with dirt, leaves or snow and may come back to feed on it over the
course of several days. Their generally secretive and solitary nature is what makes it
possible for humans to live in mountain lion country without ever seeing a mountain lion.
Mountain lions live in many different types of habitat, from deserts to humid coastal
areas, and from sea level to 10,000-foot elevations. They are more abundant in areas with
plentiful prey. An adult male's home range often spans over 100 square miles. Females
generally use smaller areas - about twenty to sixty square miles.
Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet and elusive. They are most commonly found in
areas with plentiful prey and adequate cover. Such conditions exist in subdivisions, urban
fringes and open spaces. Consequently, the number of mountain lion/ human interactions has
increased. Even so, the potential for being killed or injured by a mountain lion is quite
low compared to many other natural hazards. There is a far greater risk, for example, of
being struck by lightning than of being attacked by a mountain lion.
Now that people and mountain lions occupy so much of the same geographical areas in
California, encounters are expected to increase. If you live in mountain lion habitat,
here is what you can do to reduce your chances of encountering a mountain lion near your
By feeding wildlife in your yard, you will inadvertently attract mountain lions, which
prey upon them.
Remove dense and/or low lying vegetation that would provide good hiding places for
mountain lions, especially around childrens' play areas; make it difficult for
mountain lions to approach your yard unseen.
Keep the perimeter of your house well lit at night - especially along walkways - to
keep lions visible.
Where practical, place livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, and be sure to
secure all outbuildings.
Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside between dusk and dawn. Teach your children what to do if they encounter a mountain lion.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A MOUNTAIN LION
There's been very little research on how to avoid mountain lion attacks. But mountain lion attacks that have occurred are being analyzed in the hope that some crucial questions can be answered: Did the victim do anything to inadvertently provoke an attack? What should a person who is approached by a mountain lion do or not do?
The following suggestions are based on studies of mountain lion behavior and analysis
of attacks by mountain lions, tigers and leopards.
1416 Ninth Street,
Dec 1, 1998