What to do if you encounter a mountain lion

Published 04/21 2014 06:54PM

Updated 04/22 2014 12:07PM

Bakersfield Police are warning people of a possible mountain lion roaming near the bike path in Southwest Bakersfield. Some residents are on edge after the animal was caught on camera last Friday.

So what should you do if a big cat ventures into the city? It's something you'd have to see to believe.

Though the Department of Fish and Wildlife says a mountain lion attack hasn't been recorded in Kern County, you should know what to do if you encounter one of these big cats.

A photo was sent to us by a viewer. It was taken on Friday morning at River Run in Southwest Bakersfield between Stockdale and Allen roads along the bike path.

Bakersfield Police say they believe it's a mountain lion.

"Really I didn't even think that could be real. I was thinking it was going to be a kit fox or something like that but a mountain lion is kind of ridiculous," said Bakersfield resident Lori Roberts.

More than half of California, including Kern County, is mountain lion habitat.

"I don't really know what they're capable of doing i guess i know they'll attack i don't know if you have to provoke them," said Bakersfield resident Melanie Conrad.
There have been no recorded attacks in Kern County. But in June 2004, 27-year-old Shannon Parker of Santa Monica was attacked by a mountain lion while hiking with friends 20 miles north of Kernville, in Tulare County. She survived but lost her right eye.

If you saw one right now, what would your reaction be?

"I would run away."
"I'd run."
"Grab 'em and run."

Although many peoples' initial reaction would be to run, that's exactly what you should not do as a mountain lion's instinct is to chase.

Instead, you should:
  • Face the animal and make eye contact
  • Pick up small children
  • Make yourself look bigger
  • Wave your arms
  • Make noise
  • Throw rocks or other objects at the animal
  • Slowly create distance

If you are attacked, fight back and have someone call 911 immediately.

But according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website, there have been 14 verified mountain lion attacks in California since 1986. Only three of those attacks have been fatal.

If you have a story you would like us to check out call our newsroom at 283-1717 or email us at 17news@kget.com.

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