A California man captured video footage of a mountain lion moving through his backyard in the latest incident highlighting the collision between wild animals and people as the state becomes more and more developed.
Patrick Osgood initially thought a large dog was loose in the yard but soon realized it was a mountain lion.
“It poked it’s head up. I said, ‘My God, that’s not a dog. That’s a mountain lion,'” Osgood told Fox 40. “And it was in no rush whatsoever … just sauntering along.”
He grabbed his phone and began recording the animal as it strode outside his house. While the family has seen wild animals in the area before, nothing compared to being so close.
“It was just amazing to me that he was right there where we hang out on a daily basis,” Osgood said.
Either before or after entering the yard, neighbors believe the mountain lion attacked a cat nearby.
“When they got back last night they found a pool of blood and the cat was gone,” he said, adding that he’s now a “little skittish” given the “close call” with the large creature.
As development swallows up some mountain lion habitat, the creatures have increasingly been seen in some neighborhoods where they weren’t before.
In February, a mountain lion was shot dead after killing sheep on successive nights and trying again on the third night.
The animal was just 20 feet from the front door of the home of Alejandra Calderon, who lives in the Napa area with her husband and three young children.
The killing prompted criticism from some, but Calderon said it was necessary. “As a parent, I hope that they understand how scared we were in the moment. It was a scary experience,” she told The Press Democrat.
The lion Calderon shot was trapped the week before and fitted with an electronic collar as part of an Audubon Canyon Research Project, and its death was the third time in the two-and-a-half-year program that one of the cats in the study has been killed after preying on livestock.
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Quinton Martins, a South African biologist and big cat expert, claimed that the landowners are to blame, believing they have to keep the domestic livestock properly enclosed.
Calderon told the Press Democrat that she and her husband killed the lion because it kept killing their sheep, despite their best efforts to prevent it. Just before being shot, it was also close to their house.
“Of course, I totally understand people being upset, whoever was tracking these animals. But that was not our intention to just do it for the heck,” she said. “We would never do anything like that. We did it for safety.”
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Other areas have also seen higher numbers of mountain lions, including Carmel-by-the-Sea, although it’s not clear if the mountain lion population is increasing, noted the San Luis Obispo Tribune. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is attempting to establish an estimated population count for the first time in decades for the “particularly elusive species.”
“Regardless of what you hear, we don’t know how many there are,” Justin Dellinger, a senior environmental scientist with Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory, told the Tribune. “If you don’t know how much of something there is, you don’t know their status. You don’t know what you need to do to protect them.”
One problem, the department noted, is that mountain lions usually live alone and relocating them isn’t considered an option, since it can cause deadly territorial conflicts with mountain lions already living in the new area. People are advised to trim brush to reduce hiding places for the creatures, provide sturdy shelters for livestock, and not allow pets outside at night or around dawn or dusk.
While attacks by the cougars can be deadly, they remain rare, officials in San Bernardino said on Feb. 16, reporting that a homeowner noticed one hanging out in a tree outside their house. But attacks on pets and livestock are more common. The lion was tranquilized and taken to a suitable habitat.
Authorities noted that young mountain lions often wander outside their normal habitat, trying to establish their territory.