Mountain Lions on the Prowl in Woodside

October 5, 2008

There have been a number of reports in the news lately (including Friday night) about mountain lion sightings in San Mateo County and specifically in our Town. The latest we are aware of was reported just the other day, on October 3 in Wunderlick Park, and is one of five recent sightings in Woodside.

Quoting from an article on Palo Alto Online:, “The four recent sightings, all in the last few weeks, have been on Vintage Court in Woodside, the 400 block of Old La Honda Road in Portola Valley, the 200 block of Floresta Way in Ladera and at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley.” None of the mountain lions behaved threateningly towards people in any of the encounters – the latest one was reported to just be “wandering through the area.”

Reports of mountain lions are no doubt increasing because this is the time of year when mountain lions tend to roam, and wildlife experts tells us that our area includes their natural hunting area as they search for deer. The question is how concerned should you be, and what is the Town doing about these sightings?
You don’t need to be too frightened – mountain lion attacks on humans are very rare – but it’s probably smart to take some precautions. Advice on coexisting safely with mountain lions, taken from the Palo Alto Online article and other sources:

• If you encounter a mountain lion, don’t run away. The experts’ advice is to make a lot of noise and attempt to look as big as possible. Open your coat, raise your arms, and throw objects at the animal.

• Never turn your back on a mountain lion.

• Keep a close eye on children and pets when hiking.

• If you live in the habitat area, do not leave pet food outside and reduce any deer-attracting vegetation around your home.

• It’s wise to go hiking and running with a partner rather than alone.

• Always be aware of your surroundings when in nature.

• If you are attacked, fight back as strongly as possible.

The authorities’ response to the current situation is to have the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department drive off-road motorcycles on hillside trails in the Woodside and Portola Valley area. They hope that this will “move the mountain lions away.” Additionally, there will be informational meetings held next month in Portola Valley and in Woodside – with Portola Valley having their meeting a full two weeks before we in Woodside get ours.

It’s unclear if the motorcycles will have any effect – after all, deputies can’t be driving on these trails 24/7, and there’s already motorized traffic all through our area. Will it really help to have them tearing through the woods on motorcycles? We are also concerned about hiker safety. What happens when a deputy on a motorcycle comes roaring around a corner at a jogger with an iPod? That sounds pretty dangerous.

If you see a Mountain Lion, in an emergency call 911. For non-emergency sightings, call the Sheriff’s Department at 650-363-4911.
The Sheriff’s Department will hold informational meetings on the mountain lion sightings.

• 6 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Portola Valley Town Hall

• 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Independence Hall in Woodside

Hopefully the patrols will do some good, and meanwhile, practicing smart habits in regard to mountain lions will help keep you and yours safe. Remember, mountain lion attacks on people are extraordinarily rare. And we should just all be glad that Woodside doesn’t have the problem they have in Lake Elsinore – with the mortgage crisis going on, a family of bobcats has actually MOVED INTO A HOUSE in the neighborhood that’s been made empty due to foreclosure! We guess that bobcats don’t get eviction notices!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *