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April 13, 2021

Mountain lion strikes west MH pasture again

A mountain lion is believed to have killed a sheep Wednesday
morning in Morgan Hill, the fourth time a wild animal has killed
livestock at the same site in less than two months.
A mountain lion is believed to have killed a sheep Wednesday morning in Morgan Hill, the fourth time a wild animal has killed livestock at the same site in less than two months.

Gayle Richter, the owner of the West Dunne Avenue property where the attack happened, reported finding the carcass of one of her full-grown Barbados sheep about 8 a.m.

The site of the dead animal was familiar to her, as it makes the fourth sheep she has lost – possibly to the same mountain lion – in about six weeks, Richter said.

“Whatever it is, it keeps coming back,” Richter said about the cat. “It’s not going very far.”

She now has nine sheep remaining in her fenced-in pasture atop a hill on the north side of the road.

The dead animal was found in the southeast corner of the pasture, and Richter thinks the attacking mountain lion chased the livestock as far as the sheep could go before running into the fence.

Police and authorities from the California Department of Fish and Game set up a trap in hopes to capture the wild predator Wednesday afternoon, according to Morgan Hill Police Sgt. Jerry Neumayer.

The city’s animal control officer and Fish and Game authorities met with Richter this morning and examined the sheep carcass, Neumayer said. They determined the kill was caused by a mountain lion due to the pattern of the bite marks.

“The police department is working with the Department of Fish and Game on how best to resolve this matter,” Neumayer said.

It is unknown if the mountain lion responsible for the livestock death is the same predator who has breached Richter’s property on the three previous occasions. Richter said she has not seen the mountain lion or lions, and thinks they attack late at night or early in the morning when it is still dark.

Morgan Hill and the areas surrounding the city are considered a natural mountain lion habitat.

Richter said she will start locking her remaining sheep up in the barn overnight to prevent more losses.

“There’s not much that can be done,” she said. “The police, the animal control officer and Fish and Game have been very helpful, but you’re tied by what you can and can’t do.”

Authorities urge residents to be cautious and aware of how the animals behave, offering the following advice:

– 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, police said. He surmised that a human standing up is not the right shape for a cat’s prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks more 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.

Residents may report mountain lion sightings and encounters to Morgan Hill police at (408) 779-2101. Anyone with questions may call Morgan Hill animal control officer Daniel Pina at (408) 779-2101, or the Department of Fish and Game at (831) 649-2070.

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