SAN MARCOS, Calif. - A possible mountain lion sighting in the San Elijo Hills area of San Marcos has neighbors on edge.
Deputies received the call just after 9 a.m. Sunday, according to a Nixle alert sent out by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Witnesses reported seeing a mountain lion in the 1500 block of Glencrest Drive, 1700 block of Melrose Drive and 2200 block of Silverado Street, the alert said.
For resident Ellen Kardashian, news that one of her neighbors on Silverado Street spotted a mountain lion near their homes has her on edge.
"Never would dream that we'd have a mountain lion," she said.
Neither did Amy Casillas. The wife and mother says she often sees the warning signs about mountain lions when hiking in the trails behind her house, but a possible sighting is too close for comfort.
"Nervous because we hike in the hills a lot but also we know that they're here … we invaded their hills so I understand that they're there but I just don't really want to see them," said Casillas.
The Sheriff's ASTREA helicopter flew over the area to search for the mountain lion, but was not able to confirm reports of the sighting. California Department of Fish and Game officers were notified and also checked the area, but also came up empty-handed, sheriff's officials said.
Sheriff's officials said the state Department of Fish and Game had also received unconfirmed reports of mountain lion sightings in those areas over the weekend.
Last month, there were two more sightings in the county. A resident in Lemon Grove snapped a photo of the cat in a vacant lot near the Food 4 Less off Broadway.
Days later, there was another sighting near homes in Scripps Ranch.
"I've heard coyotes at night quite a few times so I suppose the mountain lions are coming down here to look for the coyotes," a resident told 10News.
A lack of rain is also to blame. Experts say the extreme drought is sending more wild animals into residential areas in search of food and water.
Kardashian says she is worried for her dogs and the children who play outside in her neighborhood.
"I don't let my dogs out after dark, so I walk them in the a.m. like 8 o'clock and at nighttime, no, not at all," she said.
Officials with the state agency said mountain lions are most active around dawn, dusk and at night and pets should not be allowed out at those times and pet food should be brought inside; pets and small children should not be left outside unattended; and runners, hikers or joggers should not travel alone and should avoid the activities at times when the cats are most active.
Providing food to deer, which is illegal in the state, should be avoided because it could attract mountain lions. Trimming brush could thin out possible hiding places; and motion-sensitive lights should be installed around
Authorities said those who encounter a mountain lion should not approach it, but should not run away, the department suggested. They should face the animal, make noise and try to appear bigger by waving their arms and throw rocks or other objects.
Small children should be picked up by adults, the department advised. Fight back if attacked and call 911 immediately is someone else is attacked.
Mountain lion sightings can be reported to the state Department of Fish and Game at (951) 443-2969.