Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'Mountain lion' Category

Mountain lion tracks and coyote spotted on local hikes

Mountain lion paw print next to human hand. Photo by Anne Jarmuz, Pleasanton, CA
1lionprint anne jarmuz pleasanton

On Thursday, June 23, in the morning, I was on a hike with East Bay Casual Hiking Group out of Castle Rock Regional Rec. Area. We hiked to Borges Ranch Interpretive Center. As we were leaving the center, we say a coyote on the hillside. He was being dive-bombed by many birds. He must have been in their nesting area. He wasn’t at all bothered by the birds or us as we walked by.

Then on June 29, after the June 28 rain, I was hiking the north end of the Pleasanton Ridge. … I passed many very clear footprints on the trail. Could they have been a mountain lion? They were quite large, one image compares to my hand, and I have large hands. There were no nails and it looked like they were following deer tracks.
Anne Jarmuz, Pleasanton, California

Coyotes will often sniff their way through fields where birds (usually blackbirds) are nesting in large numbers, trying to locate the nests by smell so they can eat bird eggs and/or babies. The birds know this and will rage and rant and dive and scream at the coyotes. The coyotes, unfortunately for the birds, are well aware that this is all posturing and the birds can’t do anything to hurt them. As you say, they just ignore the birds.

Looks like a mountain lion print to me. Cat tracks leave no claw marks and it is the right size and shape. Mountain lions also pass through the area. You can Google a search for “mountain lion tracks.” If you compare your photo to the ones you find there, you will see that they match. Pretty neat! /Gary

Coyote on hillside looking for bird nests. Photo by Anne Jarmuz, Pleasanton, CA
1coyote anne jarmuz pleasanton

Posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
Under: coyotes, Mountain lion | 1 Comment »

Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s mountain lion dies

Lindsay mt. lion

The Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif., is sad to report the death of our resident mountain lion this past Saturday, October 18. She was 17 years old.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Under: Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Mountain lion | No Comments »

Check these candid photos of a young mountain lion in the wild!


I received the following e-mail on Monday, July 21, and answered it on Wednesday when I got back to work from my vacation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Under: Mountain lion, Wild Neighbors, wild predators, Wildlife | 12 Comments »

Lost mountain lion climbs tree in backyard

Residents found a young mountain lion in a Sonoma backyard and Fish and Game wardens captured her.

Bay City News Service reported a young, 60-pound mountain lion was tranquilized and captured from a Redwood tree in an unincorporated Sonoma County backyard Thursday and, according to the California Department of Fish and Game, she was unharmed.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department received a report of the lion just before 1 p.m. in the 16700 block of Calle Del Luna in the Agua Caliente Knolls sub-division.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Fish and Game, Mountain lion | No Comments »

Mountain lions to be stalked by clever humans

Scientists at UC Santa Cruz will use state-of-the-art GPS to scrutinize mountain lion behavior

Scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will soon begin satellite tracking of mountain lions traversing the Santa Cruz Mountains, in an attempt to learn more about the big cats’ behavior as human development expands into their habitats, the university announced this week.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
Under: Cougar, Mountain lion, Puma | 1 Comment »

Wild turkeys: Guess what’s eating them?

Dear Gary:
My friend Rodger Hartwell pointed out that in his neck of the woods, they are noticing mountain lions eating wild turkeys — something they have not seen before.

So I might suppose the same thing might be happening in the hills around Rossmoor in Walnut Creek (where there are a LOT of wild turkeys! /Gary). Rodger had been wondering what was going to come of the increasing wild turkey population. One predator has now stepped up.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008
Under: Mountain lion, wild predators, wild turkeys | 4 Comments »

How do you sex a mountain lion? (Verrry carefully!)

The difference is not always obvious
In the state of Colorado, hoping to prevent mother mountain lions with litters from dying during hunting season, hunters will have to pass a test showing they know the difference between males and females before they set their sights on one of the big cats.

The state Wildlife Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve mandatory training, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, that starts in July.

Wildlife advocates say maintaining a certain number of female mountain lions is important because they don’t have litters every year, and kittens die without their mother.

Male mountain lions are larger and have bigger paws and longer strides than females, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife Web site. There are also other differences beyond the obvious. Males, for example, have a black spot of hair 4 to 5 inches below their tails.

If the mountain lion is charging the hunter, spotting that black spot could be a little tricky. I guess that’s known as the thrill of the hunt.

You can find out more about the Colorado Division of Wildlife mountain lion training program on the Net at:

I wonder if/when the State of California is going to get around to doing this?

Posted on Friday, May 4th, 2007
Under: Mountain lion | No Comments »

Heroic wife defends husband from mountain lion attack

Last Wednesday, a man and a woman were hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County, 320 miles north of San Francisco, when the man was attacked by a mountain lion.

According to a wire story by Associated Press writer Lisa Leff, “Nell Hamm said she grabbed a four-inch wide log and beat the animal with it,” but it wouldn’t let go of her husband Jim’s head. Nell tried to stab the lion in the eye with a pen she took from her husband’s pocket but the pen broke so she went back to pounding on the big cat with her log.

This quote from the AP story really says it all: “The lion eventually let go and with blood on its snout stood staring at the woman, who screamed and waved her wooden weapon until the animal slowly walked away.”

If you ever encounter a large predator in the wild (lion, coyote, whatever) and feel threatened by the animal, stand as tall as you can, wave a weapon or your arms, throw rocks and scream at the predator to let it know who is boss. If you are ever attacked by a mountain lion, fight and yell. Don’t ever give up.

Nell saved Jim’s life because she fought and she wouldn’t give up.

Fish and Game wardens used dogs to track down two young lions, a male and female, near the attack site. The female lion was shot Wednesday and the male on Thursday. The state forensics lab identified the female lion as the attacker (human blood on her claws).

Mountain lions are incredibly powerful animals with amazing reflexes. Back in the 1970s when I was curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, I raised several surplus zoo mountain lion cubs so the museum’s wildlife rescue program could study their development. We wanted to apply what we learned to rehabilitating orphaned wild cubs.

One time several of us were in the field working with a 9-month-old, 80-pound male lion. The enormous cub was standing about 8-10 feet away from me when it suddenly leaped through the air and struck me full in the chest (in one bound!), knocking me to the ground flat on my back. All the air was smashed from my lungs and as I laid there, utterly helpless and gasping, the lion started purring and licking my beard. Fortunately, it was just playing.

I can only imagine the unbelievable power and fear that goes with a REAL mountain lion attack. That’s why Nell Hamm is a brave and heroic woman. The same goes for her badly-injured husband, Jim, who somehow mustered his strength to get up (at Nell’s insistent urging) and they hiked together to a nearby trail head where they met a ranger who called for help.

What a great couple!

Today, Jim is in serious condition and probably undergoing more surgery to repair his injuries. My thoughts are with him and his very special wife, Nell.

Posted on Monday, January 29th, 2007
Under: Mountain lion | 2 Comments »

Pleasanton Police Chief discusses mountain lion shooting

Read my Friday column for more information on the mountain lion that was shot by a game warden in Pleasanton last Tuesday. Pleasanton Police Chief Tim Neal sent me an e-mail with his comments on why they felt they had to shoot the big cat, and I throw in a few observations of my own.
Today’s (Friday) column:

Posted on Friday, June 16th, 2006
Under: Killing, Mountain lion | 1 Comment »

Young mountain lion shot in Pleasanton

A juvenile mountain lion about a year old was shot and killed in Pleasanton, by a California Department of Fish and Game warden at 11:15 a.m. this morning.

I just got off the phone with Troy Swauger, a DFG information officer and he said they got a call from animal control about 9:20 a.m. reporting that the 50-60 pound mountain lion was acting unusual. A DFG warden responded to the scene. When the warden came into the area, she noticed a park with playing children about 200 yards away.

The warden was told the big cat had been pacing back and forth in the parking lot next to a Pleasanton condominium complex. The cat had probably come out of an open space area next to the complex by traveling along a nearby creekbed. Local police officers on the site told our Valley Times staff writer Sophia Kazmi that the lion had "been in at least a couple of back yards in the Birch Creek Townhouses complex."

Troy told me the cat was standing next to a chainlink fence that it could have jumped over and returned to the open space area but it refused to go. He said the mountain lion was moving from the parking lot back toward the townhouses when the warden took one shot and killed it. It had been determined to be a public safety issue with a potential risk to humans.

This is the time of year when mama mountain lions boot yearling cats out on their own after spending a year being trained in the art of hunting. Troy said the 50-60 pound cat was a little smaller than normal for its age, but it appeared healthy. They’ll be doing a standard necropsy on the animal to find out the sex and to see if it had any diseases.

Today’s mountain lion encounter was very similar to other encounters with these big cats in the past (Palo Alto, Livermore in 2004). It’s almost always a yearling cub, freshly on its own and trying to set up its own territory. Unfortunately, mountain lion territories seem to be getting more and more in demand as the lion population grows and habitat space is gobbled up by us greedy humans. Older, bigger lions keep chasing the youngsters off until some of them occasionally wander into town and unfortunately get into trouble.

My friend Jim Swanson, a DFG wildlife biologist who retired a couple of years ago, once told me, "I believe the reason we are having so many lion sightings now is that the lion population is growing and these cats are getting kicked out of the better habitats and are searching for a place to make a living and unfortunately they are ending up adjacent to and in the urban areas where trouble brews for them."

As Jim told me in 2004 when I wrote a lot of columns on dealing with mountain lions, "saving the animal is always the first choice." Capture is the next consideration, and the only safe way to do it is to tranquilize the animal. Back in the 1970s, I took the DFG tranquilizer course, where wardens are trained to tranquilize problem animals. I quickly discovered there are many uncertainties and variables with tranquilizing an animal, especially if you’re in the middle of town. Only on TV shows do the animals go immediately to sleep. In reality, you could end up with a terrified, half-drugged mountain lion running through backyards and maybe encountering and injuring a human, or worse.

All things considered, as much as I love those beautiful animals, I’d probably have made the same decision as the warden, especially after seeing those kids playing in a nearby park.

On another note, as I wrote in a column on May 19, 2004, it would be a good thing if DFG could offer more guidance to help local law enforcement agencies handle these lion problems. Special seminars and special "Mountain Lion Kits" could be created and provided. The object of the program would be simple. Come up with standardized ways to deal with the big cats. And put together a "DFG Lion Committee" of lion experts from California and other states to meet regularly and analyze past events and brainstorm and come up with better and less lethal and more effective ways of dealing with wildlife encounters.

It would make things a lot easier for police and wardens and citizens the next time a mountain lion or a bear decides to go for a walk downtown.

Posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2006
Under: Fish and Game, Mountain lion, Wildlife | 6 Comments »