UC Santa Cruz police responded today to mountain-lion sighting in the undeveloped area of the campus north of the Crown-Merrill apartments and the UCSC Firehouse.
A student reported seeing the mountain lion approximately 25 feet from Chinquapin Road, where she was jogging. Police responded to the call at approximately 1:30 p.m., and sent out a CruzAlert message to members of the campus community.
While mountain-lion sightings are relatively rare on campus, this is the second one on or near UCSC in the past week. On January 17, police received a call from a hiker on the Spring Street Trail (near the southern edge of campus), who reported that he had seen two mountain lions. Police escorted the hiker from the trail and urge others to avoid the area for their own safety.
Mountain lions are generally very shy and elusive animals. But if you happen to see one, the California Department of Fish and Game recommends that you take the following actions:
DO NOT HIKE ALONE. Make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising a lion. Go in groups, with adults supervising children. A sturdy walking stick is a good idea: you can use it to ward off a lion.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU. Observations of captured lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
STOP! Do not run from a lion. Back away from it slowly, but only if you can do so safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up so they won't panic and run. Although it may seem awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the lion.
DO NOT BEND OR CROUCH OVER; DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER. A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. Raise your arms. Open your jacket, if you're wearing one. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can grab without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a large voice.
DO NOT APPROACH A LION, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED. Try to stay on your feet if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven off by prey that fights back. Some hikers have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools, and their bare hands. Since lions usually try to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
PLEASE REPORT ALL MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTINGS ON OR NEAR THE UCSC CAMPUS, AS WELL AS ANY ANIMAL CARCASS THAT COULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO A LION KILL, TO THE UNIVERSITY POLICE, at 831-459-2231.