A Gilroy resident reported a mountain lion sighting to police Thursday morning in the area of Cydney Casper Park near Las Animas Elementary School.
Police are reminding people that the area is a mountain lion habitat, and residents should be aware and take precautions to avoid interacting with the animals when outdoors.
About 9:30am April 2, a resident reported an adult/adolescent mountain lion in the wooded area near Charles Lux Drive and Cimino Street, according to police. Officers searched the area and did not find the mountain lion.
“The Department of Fish and Wildlife was notified of the sighting and they will be working with the Gilroy Police Department to help ensure the safety of the public,” reads a press release from Gilroy Police.
Authorities offered the following advice about how to avoid mountain lions and how to respond if one is sighted:
• Do not hike alone: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
• Keep children close to you: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
• Do not approach a lion: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
• Do not run from a lion: Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they do not panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
• Do not crouch down or bend over: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat’s prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you are in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
• Do all you can to appear larger: Raise your arms, open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
• Fight back if attacked: A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
Mountain lion sightings can be reported to the Gilroy Police Department at (408)846-0350 or California Department of Fish and Wildlife at (707) 944-5500.