Great Canyon Cathedral
Photo by: Walt Puciata
Help prevent deadly conflicts with these beautiful wild animals.
More than half of California is mountain lion habitat. Mountain lions generally exist wherever deer are found. They are solitary and elusive, and their nature is to avoid humans.
Mountain lions prefer deer but, if allowed, they also eat pets and livestock. In extremely rare cases, even people have fallen prey to mountain lions.
Mountain lions that threaten people are immediately killed. Those that prey on pets or livestock can be killed by a property owner after the required depredation permit is secured. Moving problem mountain lions is not an option. It causes deadly conflicts with other mountain lions already there. Or the relocated mountain lion returns.
If in doubt about what to do, ask your local Fish and Game warden or wildlife biologist.
One reader writes...
I have been viewing some online material on mountain lions tonight, as I am thinking of ways to prevent becoming a statistic. I frequent very remote areas in California canyon country, alone, and have been thinking of bringing a German Shepherd dog with me to alert me to a cats presence.
Do you have any material or suggestions on how I might read up on others experiences with dogs protecting them from mountain lions?
Walt is not alone, many who live, work and vacation in remote areas, known for their beauty and solitude are beginning to share concerns over the growing mountain lion population.
People who live or visit remote areas aren't the only ones who should be concerned. Anyone living where deer are known to frequent, should be on watch and cautious about where they are at all times. Deer are a primary staple in the mountain lion diet and can create a present danger to humans and livestock living in close proximity to mountain lion territories.
The information you seek is kind of tough to find but I was able to find a few of articles, which you may find useful.
Dogs are used to protect livestock and they can be trained to avoid mountain lions and will alert you to a mountain lions presence. While the dog may provide forewarning to a mountain lions close proximity, the dog may well lose his life in doing so but that could provide enough of a deterrent, to allow you enough time to escape an impending attack.
In general, the advice seems to be split, some articles indicated that dogs are great at alerting their owners to the presence of a mountain lion, while others point out that dogs can actually attract mountain lions as prey.
I hope you find this material helpful.
Thank you, Annette!
You gave me a goldmine of stuff to research when you sent the links of dog and cougar references!
Coincidentally, I just got off the phone from speaking with the Breeder Referral Officer for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. She seemed to feel that since the breed is one that can specifically be trained to stay right by you at all times, wherever a person may go, that it may be the best choice of dogs to have in places where you on your own and need an ear, nose and sharp teeth.
I'm attaching a photo of a place I frequent in Butte Creek Canyon, Northern California. It's beautiful there, but it is a place known to have Cougars. I don't like to be there bent over panning for gold, hearing nothing but the water, feeling very vulnerable. Though I can think of worse ways to die than being taken out by a cougar, I still love life and have plans, you know?
Beaver Pond on Lundy Creek
Photo by: Walt Puciata
I have had a penchant for nature images since I was in my late teens. I made this image with my small Canon Powershot and I feel it did capture the feeling of the place. I have gone to that place but have never photographed it in large format yet. That will be the kicker, printable to 30x40 inches, with exquisite detail.
Using the big camera requires me to be low to the ground, & cover my head & camera with a dark cloth (dark inside, ivory colored outside), so I can see, to focus, on the ground glass. This of course, makes me nervous, for I would be totally unaware of an approaching lion, the water sounds blocking any sound and then my eyes devoted to the craft. I have yet, though, to paint a face, bearing teeth, on the back of it yet -- as African tribesman do on their hats, to confuse lions!
So, you can understand my desire for the guard dog. He'd be my eyes and ears. Though I am still young, just 50, when I was younger than this, I didn't think much about cougars, while there, but the numbers of cougars and my cautiousness has increased. Reading the accounts of human encounters, convinces me, I shouldn't be so cocky anymore, but be prepared, so I can maintain enjoyment of the place, and live with more memories of it's beauty.
I found the place with an old gold prospector and call it the "Great Canyon Cathedral," because I go into a worshipful state of mind when I am there, and it always takes me a long time to leave, stopping, pausing, taking everything in; sites, smells, sounds, knowing I am returning to a bustling, mostly unconscious society.
In the nearly 20 years now I have been going to this spot on Butte Creek, there has never been another human there, except for one fly fisherman I saw fleetingly, come and go, about 13 years ago. I don't know how he even forged his way up stream. The creek bed below is nothing but narrow, steep, bedrock. The trail I use to get there is an old Yahi Indian path, mostly all overgrown, and the trail head is on the top of an embankment, at an elbow in a tortuously rugged four wheel drive rock & dirt road.
I have seen in past years, deer ticks, on this path. I have never seen a deer there, but deer ticks don't just hang out for no reason. So, all these things cause me to know, that it really is only a matter of time when a lion will see and become "interested" in me!
Thanks again for your great help! I will bookmark your site!
More than half of California is considered mountain lion habitat; as a general rule, mountain lions live wherever deer are present. People are observed by lions far more frequently than lions are observed by people.
Studies of radio-collared mountain lions show that lions tend to avoid people. Given the fact that there are well over 30 million people and thousands of mountain lions in California, encounters between people and lions are infrequent and attacks are extremely rare.
The DFG has issued the following recommendations for avoiding encounters with a mountain lion, as well as what to do if attacked by a mountain lion:
For more information, visit the
Department of Fish and Game Online
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