September 16, 2013

Mountain Lions are reported in our area from time to time but recently there have been multiple sightings near Woodside. In May, a cat was seen at about 2:10 a.m. in the area of Portola Road and Sand Hill Road. On July 22nd, a cougar was spotted at 10 pm on the 700 block of Vista Drive in Emerald Hills. Then on Friday, August 16th, a mountain lion was seen again in Emerald Hills – this time near Lakeview Way and Oak Knoll Drive around 3 a.m. Given that a part of Woodside is in Emerald Hills, and knowing how far cougars can roam, as we periodically remind COWS, good safety practices regarding our wild neighbors are necessary . Hikers and joggers need to be on alert after dark, as mountain lions are primarily nocturnal.

As this website advises, most Mountain Lions are not looking for a confrontation with adult humans. Here are tips to keep safe:
• Avoid approaching any mountain lion.
• If you can, avoid hiking at dawn, dusk, and at night when they are most active. Hike with a partner if you can.
• Small children and pets are at most risk from a mountain lion – keep a close eye on them when in wilderness areas.
• Do not run from a mountain lion. The website instead encourages people to try to appear larger and threatening by making noise and waving arms around, and throwing rocks and other objects to get the cougar to move on.
• In the incredibly unlikely event that you are attacked, authorities suggest you fight back. Protect the back of your head and neck and stay upright.

As we all know, this area has been mountain lion habitat far longer than it housed humans. With increasing urbanization, there are growing pressures on the lions. Given our Town’s much prized rural nature, we have to successfully coexist with cougars.

Our own Jerry Hill proposed a law to prevent the needless killing of mountain lions by state wardens which has been passed by the Governor. The bill increases the authority of Fish and Wildlife wardens broader to pursue nonlethal measures, such as trapping or tranquilizing, when dealing with lions that are spotted in residential areas. While Fish and Wildlife Director Bonhom approved new guidelines in March that achieve similar ends, this bill will make those guidelines law.

We can be good neighbors by not feeding wildlife since mountain lions’ preferred prey are deer and squirrels, raccoons, and rabbits. Keep landscaping from providing hiding places for mountain lions close to your home. Make sure to take pet food in so as not to feed and attract raccoons and other critters to your home. Install outdoor lighting and use it judiciously, Secure pets and livestock and keep an eye on children. We can stay safe and enjoy knowing that in Woodside nature is healthy enough to support both COWS and other creatures.

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