Safety tips--mountain lions

To: UCSC Community

From: Nader Oweis, UCSC police chief

Two recent mountain lion sightings on or near campus have prompted our department to issue CruzAlert messages. The sightings are described on a UCSC home page posting at:

According to an off-campus news account, there have also been recent sightings in nearby San Mateo County.

While the likelihood of encountering a mountain lion is extremely low, the recent sightings have prompted our officers to conduct additional patrols in the areas where mountain lions have been seen. These sightings also serve to remind us all of a few of the following California Department of Fish and Game safety tips:

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.

IF YOU SEE A MOUNTAIN LION, 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.
To report a possible sighting, call the UC Santa Cruz Police Department immediately at 911 or 831-459-2231. Those on the campus may also use any of the blue light phones found throughout the campus.

Thank you very much.