Mountain lion sightings prompt warning in Morro Bay

A mountain lion similar to this one has been spotted in Morro Bay.
A mountain lion similar to this one has been spotted in Morro Bay.

Among the myriad effects the drought has had locally, add encroaching mountain lions to the list.

Morro Bay officials issued a warning to residents Tuesday of a mountain lion possibly roaming the hills near the 2300 block of Nutmeg Avenue after two reported sightings in so many days.

On Monday, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife asked Morro Bay police to respond to the area to confirm a resident’s report of a sighting. Officers determined the person saw a mountain lion on Sunday and Monday about 35 to 40 feet from their home, which is in an area near rolling hills with cattle and other grazing livestock.

The report marks the third local sighting since July 6, according to Morro Bay Police Department.

A Cambria resident also told The Tribune she saw a mountain lion in the Lodge Hill area and at least one Cayucos resident in June said a pet was lost to a mountain lion in the downtown area, though neither incident was reported to Fish and Wildlife.

Cambria resident Jacqueline Hook, who lives near the Lodge Hill area, said she was sitting on her raised porch with a family member about 10 a.m. Saturday morning when they saw something rustling in the bushes some 15 feet away. When they looked closer, a large mountain lion ran out and down a hill dragging a wild turkey, she said.

“It was absolutely gorgeous,” Hook said. “Of course, except for the turkey in its mouth.”

Fish and Wildlife Lt. Todd Tognazzini said Tuesday that mountain lion sightings in the North Coast during the summer months are very common, especially in the Lodge Hill area of Cambria, because of drought conditions.

Mountain lions are drawn to more urbanized areas because of a greater concentration of deer and water sources in those higher populated areas. Tognazzini said he was not familiar with the recent sightings as they were not reported, but said one indicator of increased mountain lion activity is requests for depredation permits from cattle owners looking to protect their livestock. He said he has not yet seen any increase in requests.

Tognazzini added that in his nearly 30 years working in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, he has never seen a report of a person attacked by a mountain lion, but said residents should still take precautions when in rural areas frequented by livestock.

He also recommended not leaving children alone outside between dusk and the early morning hours.

Information on mountain lion safety tips can be found at the Fish and Wildlife website at http://dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/lion.

If you see a mountain lion ...

Here are some tips to protect yourself:

  • Make yourself appear as large as possible. Pick up children, leash pets in, stand close to other adults. Open your jacket. Raise your arms and slowly wave them.
  • Make noise. Yell, shout, bang your walking stick against a tree. Speak slowly, firmly and loudly to disrupt and discourage predatory behavior.
  • Act like a predator. Maintain eye contact. Never run past or from a mountain lion. Never bend over or crouch down. Aggressively wave your raised arms, throw stones or branches without turning away.
  • Slowly create distance. Consider whether you may be between the lion and its young, or between the lion and food. Without turning around, back slowly to a spot that gives the mountain lion a path to get away.
  • Protect yourself. If attacked, fight back. Protect your neck and throat.
Source: Mountain Lion Foundation