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Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

Kaneohe, HI
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Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

I was thinking about visiting the park (Prairie Creek Redwoods Stat Park) this summer, but now I am concerned after hearing about the mauling by a mountain lion of a man there last week. In what part of the park did it take place, was it on a main trail? I hear so much about the elk population, I wonder if this is what attracted the mountain lions to the area.

New York City, New...
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1. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

There have been such attacks every few years for the last twenty all over California. They are usually isolated incidents, and the officials have killed two lions in Prairie Creek shortly after the most recent attack. Hopefully this has removed the threat, but I would continue to monitor news about the area. The elk, while they undoubtedly attract lions, are not a major factor here in my opinion, such attacks have occured all over the state, in areas without elk, but with deer. Mountain lions have been found roaming the Stanford campus and the suburban streets of Palo Alto, so they are not limited to wilderness areas. Personally, I would not worry about it if there are no further attacks in the same area.

Kaneohe, HI
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2. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

Thanks for your input, Baya. I remember hearing about the Palo Alto incidents. It's unfortunate that the situation customarily results in killing of mountain lions, when humans have invaded mountain lion territory in the first place.

I do look forward to exploring Prairie Creek Redwoods, however, and will monitor the mountain lion updates. It sounds like mountain lions inhabit both lush areas like the Pacific coast as well as more arid areas like Morgan Hill, etc. Where attacks will occur is somewhat unpredictable. Odds obviously are extremely low of getting attacked. Similar to surfing or swimming in Hawaiian waters-the annual attacks by sharks wouldn't keep me from enjoying water activities-I will not stop hiking wilderness trails in CA. It does make one think a little, though. Thanks again for the perspective.

Eureka, CA
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3. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

CalBearTuba, the California Department of Fish and Game, which used to have authority to manage the mountain lion population, lost that power in the '80s after a statewide initiative banned mountain lion hunting. It is no coincidence that we are now seeing changes in their range and their behavior.

Within recent months, there have been four mountain lion sightings on the campus of Humboldt State University, in urban Arcata. This past November our aunt was rousted from bed by the campus police, who warned her that there was a cougar in her back yard--hardly the creature's original territory.

Here is what the Department of Fish and Game says you can do if you encounter a mountain lion:

Never hike alone; keep children in sight of adults at all times.

If you encounter a mountain lion, pick up your small children.

Do not run.

Try to appear as large as possible by slowly waving your arms overhead.

Speak in a loud, firm voice and throw stones or branches, whatever is in reach without having to crouch.

Always face a lion, and if the lion attacks, fight back.

Do not approach a lion; try to avoid a confrontation by giving the animal a way to escape.

I would point out that you never see the cat that takes you down, because they strike from behind. That's where hiking with a companion is important.

Eureka/Fortuna/Hydes...
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4. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

I wouldn't worry about it too much. You have a greater chance of getting in a car wreck and dying on the drive up then by being eaten by a lion, But I bet you still get behind the wheel. Most the time you see a bear, lion, coyote, rattlesnake ect. they are trying to get away from you. I've hunted and hiked my whole life here and never even saw sign. Yes, they are out there but they are few and far between and 99/100 will do every thing in there power to avoid you.

Uden, The...
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5. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

The article in the Inside Bay Area by John Driscoll even reached Europe and was discussed in the Dutch USA forums!!! So there's some impact. Glad about your posts, already put it on the Dutch forum.

Tet

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6. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

One thing I have done, that may or may not be helpful, is to wear a large external frame backpack, the kind that has a metal bar across the top above the actual pack. Since the lions attack from behind and go for the head and neck, this might (or might not) provide some protection. I've also carried a large fishing knife on my belt, and a big hiking pole, but have no idea if these would be useful in an attack. This is what I started doing after the mid-90s attacks in Cuyumaca Park near San Diego. One other thing I haven't done, but have seen on a TV program about man-eating tigers in the Sundarbans, is to wear a Halloween type mask (with eyes and a mouth) backwards on the back of your head, so that it looks like you have a face on the back of your head. You're probably far more likely to be ridiculed by fellow hikers than to ward off a lion doing this, but if it makes you safer, well there it is.

Forestville...
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7. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

I think the reason such attacks get world-wide coverage is that they are so extremely RARE. Also, Calif. Prop. 117 passed by voters did not truly protect mtn. lions as hundreds are still legally killed each yr. (by Dept. of Fish & Game and private parties who are issued permits)--and many more illegally destroyed.

Eureka, CA
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8. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

Bayatuning, thank you for your thoughtful posts offering concrete, original advice about protecting oneself against a mountain lion. Your observations honor not only the asker of the question, but also all readers who follow the responses.

The cougar that attacked an accompanied adult male in broad daylight on a well-traveled trail in a California state park showed us that the old wisdom about cougar behavior doesn't necessarily hold--the rules are changing.

For we are dealing here with living individuals and a living ecosystem, where yesterday's "rare" can become tomorrow's merely "unusual." The prudent traveler stays alert to his surroundings, seeks local knowledge, and prepares for the unexpected . . . in all aspects of travel.

Sunnyvale...
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9. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

"I wouldn't worry about it too much. You have a greater chance of getting in a car wreck and dying on the drive up then by being eaten by a lion"

Yes and No.

They are very stealthy. Most people never see them; but because you do not see them does not mean that they do not see you. They are quiet too.

Because most people are not sufficiently observant to spot them, they will usually say that you are kidding if you actually do see one. Bobcats are more easily spotted.

I've seen several (but never heard them) mountain lions on my hikes in the past few years near Lick Observatory, Henry Coe, in the Los Altos/Palo Alto foothills and the Los Gatos foothills. The people with me never saw the lions, except my wife who caught a glimpse of one that I was pointing out, but not long enough to identify it.

If you see one, keep your eyes on it. Most of the time, they do run the other way...they've most likely seen you first.

Eureka/Fortuna/Hydes...
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10. Re: Attack by a mountain lion in Praire Creek Redwoods

OK, I see the yes so where is the no?