Fri12192014

News

Mountain lion causes stir in Hills, wanders away

Photo Courtesy Of Charlie Knowles

A hiker near Rhus Ridge spotted an adult male mountain lion resting in the bushes.

A mountain lion spotted in the bushes close to a hiking trail in Los Altos Hills Sept. 3 has since fled and does not pose a threat to hikers, according to a California Department of Fish and Game spokesman.

A Fish and Game warden began monitoring the site near Rhus Ridge and Windmill Pasture preserve after a hiker reported seeing the cat. The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District closed the hiking trail temporarily but has since reopened it.

“The mountain lion was not being aggressive but was near a hiking trail,” said Kyle Orr, Fish and Game information officer for an area that includes Santa Clara County. “Apparently the mountain lion stayed there for five hours and ultimately dispersed. … It was not considered a public-safety issue because it was not acting aggressively toward people.”

Still, the sighting triggered an emergency broadcast to residents Still, the sighting triggered an emergency broadcast to residents by a Los Altos Hills public safety officer, indicating that Fish and Game officials would attempt to trap and relocate the cat.

Charlie Knowles, a nearby resident and founder of the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN), issued a statement following the sighting and emergency notification that he did not support dispatching the cat.

“Since all of Los Altos Hills sits in prime mountain lion habitat, there will continue to be sightings of mountain lions,” said Knowles, who has worked with the cats as part of the WCN. “This area in which we live is so spectacular because it is wild. Let’s keep it that way.”

Orr said if the mountain lion had been deemed dangerous, the agency would have likely killed it.

Asked what signs indicate a mountain lion is dangerous, Orr said, “If it’s getting very close to people or appears to be stalking.”

He said mountain lions tend to avoid people.

“Attacks on people are extremely rare,” he said. “There have been 14 verified attacks (in the state) since 1890. Six were fatalities.”

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