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California wildlife experts provide tips for fending off mountain lions

mountain lion
Posted at 4:23 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 19:24:54-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County is full of beautiful trails and parks, but the outdoor space increases the risk of mountain lion encounters.

Although the animals usually avoid humans, they may prey on pets, livestock, and rarely, humans.

In Colorado, a man fended off a mountain lion by wrestling it and eventually suffocating it with his bare hands.

The most recent deadly attack in San Diego County was in December 1994, when a 56-year-old woman was killed in Cuyamaca State Park.

RELATED: San Diego County park rangers recommend these trails in 2019

Mountain lions that threaten people are immediately killed by wildlife officials.

More than half of California is home to mountain lions, according to the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

What can you do?

Property owners can obtain a permit to kill mountain lions that prey on pets and livestock. Officials say relocating a troublesome mountain lion is not an option because the animal returns, or creates conflict with other mountain lions in its new location.

RELATED: North County mountain lion sightings stoke worries for safety

Wildlife experts also recommend you start by preventing deer, the preferred prey of mountain lions. This step may include removing plants deer like to eat. You can also trim brush to remove hiding places for mountain lions. Also, protect other potential prey including small children, pets, and pet food.

How should you handle a mountain lion encounter?

Mountain lion experts contributed safety tips to the CDFW.

  • Take a buddy if you hike or jog on trails
  • Avoid trails at dawn, dusk, and night, when mountain lions are most active
  • Don’t run, which may trigger a chase and catch response
  • Face the animal, make noise, and try to look bigger
  • Be vocal but do not used high-pitched tones or screams
  • Carry bear spray and keep it accessible
  • If a lion attacks, fight back and try to stay on your feet

See it? Share it!

The website iNaturalist, a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, created a map of mountain lion sightings around the world, including dozens in San Diego County.