Mountain lion sighted twice in a week at Cuesta College, police say

A mountain lion was spotted twice recently near Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, reminding students, faculty and staff members of their proximity to wilderness.

Campus police sent an email Wednesday warning of cougar sightings near the San Luis Obispo campus

A mountain lion was spotted Monday and Tuesday evening near the Auto Body building and the Shipping and Receiving Building around the outer perimeter of the campus off Highway 1, according to Ritchie Bermudez, a spokesman for the community college.

“This will occasionally happen as our campus is adjacent to large open areas where wildlife is more prevalent,” the Cuesta College Police Department said in an email alert that included safety tips.

The department is right. San Luis Obispo County is cougar country, and that area along Highway 101 is prime mountain lion territory because of the number of deer.

“It is common to see (mountain lions) at El Chorro (Regional Park), but there haven’t been any sightings recently,” county Parks Director Nick Franco said.

There have been recent sightings of cougars at Santa Margarita Lake, he said.

Hundreds of mountain lion sightings have been reported to local authorities over the last few years — more so around town, as folks in more rural areas are keenly aware of the animals’ stealth and elusiveness.

According to Cuesta College police, if you come across a mountain lion, here’s what to do:

  1. Do not turn and run. This may encourage the animal to give chase.
  2. Face the mountain lion and make yourself look as large as possible. Stand straight up, raise your arms and wave them slowly. Open up a jacket or other outer clothing.
  3. Yell, scream, make noise.
  4. Throw objects like books or even your backpack at the lion, but do not crouch or bend over to reach any items to throw.
  5. If attacked, fight back! Mountain lions have been successfully fended off using items like sticks, clothing, or even bare hands.
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