With two mountain lion sightings confirmed by SF's Recreation and Parks Department since August 21, it’s clear that America’s largest feline is making a fierce return to glory in Northern California.
Per Patch, Rec and Parks has since posted signs in Golden Gate Park, where a mountain lion was spotted in the park’s west end on Tuesday, just a few days after a previous sighting was reported near Lake Merced.
Report any mountain lion sighting in SF to @SF311 . Out of an abundance of caution, keep a close eye on small children where mountain lions have been spotted, keep pets on leash, & avoid hiking, biking or jogging alone, especially at dawn, dusk & night, when are most active. https://t.co/ZCOvNLcqec— SF Rec and Park (@RecParkSF) September 7, 2019
These glimpses, themselves, are part of a boom in sightings across the Bay Area, suggesting that the once threatened big cats are not only on the rebound but keen on repopulating areas that historically once ran wild with them.
However, contrary to NorCal’s improving mountain lion numbers, south of us, in the Greater Los Angeles Area, these majestic cats are faring far worse. According to recent findings by UC Davis, populations in SoCal's Santa Ana and Santa Monica Mountains could go extinct within 50 years, those pontifications now published in the journal Ecological Applications.
Nevertheless, as was proven by UC Davis, too, in a 2017 study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. journal, these gargantuan cats—which can occasionally tip the scales at over 200 lbs and stretch nearly 8ft long—are far more afraid of us than we are of them. When “human noises and speech” inundate an area they’re occupying, they’ll flee the scene, sometimes not returning for days on end.
“We decided to play the sounds of humans talking directly to pumas, and measured what they did,” Justine Smith, a participating scientist in the study, told Popular Science. “Turns out, as soon as they hear human voices, these cats turn tail and run.”
Neither of the two SF reported spottings suggested that the felines acted aggressively towards other humans, which, according to park officials, is “extremely rare,” anyways. The Department of Fish and Wildlife cites that there have only been 16 verified, recorded mountain lion attacks on humans in California history, with only six resulting in fatalities.
Photo: Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, via Unsplash