Friday, February 12, 2016

Cougar Stalks Arrowhead Neighborhood

Posted: Thursday, February 11, 2016 
It was a typical morning for Gennory Viljanen, who lives on Palisades Drive in Lake Arrowhead. She took her tiny Maltese, Princess Fufu, out into the front yard at about 7 a.m. When they went back inside, Viljanen walked to her kitchen—a 15-second trip—looked out the window and caught some movement out of the corner of her eye in the yard.
There, right by her front door, was a large mountain lion.
Even though she was shaking, Viljanen had the presence of mind to grab her phone and take some photos. “He was posing in every window,” Viljanen said. “He lingered here for a good 10 to 15 minutes. It seemed like an eternity.” She finally tapped on the window. “He turned around and went up the steps.”

Her guess is that the cat was walking down the trail, on his way to the lake for a drink. “He must have smelled my dog and made a U-turn onto my property,” Viljanen said. “It was a big cat; his head was bigger than my dog.”

Her Maltese, Viljanen said, is always supervised but “now I won’t let her step out for one second. Everyone needs to be careful. If we had been there another 10 seconds we would have been face to face with a lion.”

Jeff Villepique, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, was impressed with Viljanen’s photos. “This is definitely an exciting closeup and reminder that mountain lions live in our midst, though we’re usually none the wiser as movements are typically under cover of night.”

Villepique said this looks like a full-grown, older lion as evidenced by the “cat paunch” visible in the photos. “It looks to be a male, judging from its broad head and what look to be relatively large paws.”
The lion, he said, was most likely prowling for prey: house cats, raccoons, rabbits and, occasionally, dogs, “all of which routinely fall prey to mountain lions living near residential areas.”

Because mountain residents live within the normal range of mountain lions, bears, coyotes and other potentially dangerous wildlife, Villepique said that “sightings and backyard visits should be expected by those living in mountain communities, and do not constitute a threat to the public. “The majority of sightings are one-time events, in part because mountain lions cover large areas and often move a dozen miles in a single night.”

Most conflicts arise, Villepique said, from dogs, cats, chickens or livestock being left outside overnight in an unsecured area. Garbage, pet food, bird seed, fallen fruit and compost can attract bears and coyotes, he noted. “The best way to not have a mountain lion or other wild creature around is to remove the attractants,” he said.

Villepique refers mountain residents to Fish and Wildlife’s new website——for more information and tips on co-existing with mountain wildlife.


No comments: