Local and state authorities June 4 found evidence of a suspected mountain lion attack in a Morgan Hill neighborhood, and are warning residents to be cautious when out with children and pets.
On Tuesday, Morgan Hill Police responded to a report of a deer carcass on Fountain Oaks Drive, east of U.S. 101, according to a press release from MHPD. The city’s animal services officer met with the resident who reported the dead deer, and examined the small carcass.
Police also notified the California Department of Fish and Game. Both the MHPD animal services officer and Fish and Game officials agreed the bite marks and injuries on the deer carcass were “most likely caused by a mountain lion,” reads the MHPD release.
“This is the first reported possible mountain lion event in 2019,” reads the press release. “The police department is working with the Department of Fish and Game on how to best address this situation.”
Police are encouraging residents to report all mountain lion sightings.
Because the areas surrounding Morgan Hill are considered prime mountain lion habitat, authorities want human residents to be aware of precautions everyone can take to keep themselves, families and pets safe. The following advice is offered in the MHPD press release:
• Do not hike alone; hike in groups when possible, with adults supervising children.
• Parents should keep children close. Observations of captured wild mountain lions have revealed that the animals are drawn to small children. Keep children within sight at all times.
• Do not approach a mountain lion. Most mountain lions try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
• Do not run from a mountain lion; running may trigger the animal’s instinct to chase.
If you encounter a mountain lion, stand and face the animal and make eye contact, police advise. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they do not panic and run.
“Although it may be awkward, pick (the child) up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion,” reads the press release.
• Do not crouch down or bend over. In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby, police explained. He surmised that a human standing up is not the right shape for a cat’s prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks more like a four-legged prey animal. If you are in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
• Try to appear larger. Raise your arms, open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
• Fight back if attacked. A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son, reads the press release. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
Residents can report mountain lion sightings and encounters to the Morgan Hill Police Department by calling (408) 779-2101. Anyone who has information about the June 4 mountain lion incident can call MHPD Sgt. Bill Norman at (669) 253-4982.