Saturday, 15 June 2024

Mountain lion spotted in Nice; warden offers tips for dealing with big cats

NICE – Residents in one Nice neighborhood are reporting that they've spotted a mountain lion roaming the area

At around 3 a.m. one morning last weekend, Carolyn Hawley, who lives on Butte Avenue, was awakened by her dog and her neighbors' dogs barking profusely.

Hawley got up and looked out the window. She said she didn't have her glasses on, so at first she thought that the large, beige-colored creature she saw thirstily lapping up water from her dog's bowl was a very big dog.

However, it was a mountain lion. Hawley said she later found out from neighbors that they, too, had seen the big cat.

“It was scoping out my chicken coop,” said Hawley.

After the mountain lion emptied out the water bowl, Hawley said it sauntered out of her yard “in regal fashion.”

“He didn't cause any trouble,” she said.

Hawley said she hasn't seen a mountain lion in her neighborhood before, but she began studying up on them, and discovered that they make a sound that can sound like a peacock. She said she's heard a similar sound in the area, and so she believed the mountain lion may have been scoping out the area for a while.

Her cat wouldn't go outside after the sighting and the wild turkeys she's seen around have been gone for a while.

Hawley said she didn't think the mountain lion was out to do harm, and doubted there was danger.

Local Fish and Game Warden Loren Freeman said there are definitely mountain lions in Lake County due to its very rural nature.

“I am getting an increased activity with reports right now,” said Freeman, who believed that the growing number of sightings may be, in part, due to water drying up in area creeks and springs.

That would explain the thirsty mountain lion's fixation on the water bowl in Hawley's yard, Freeman said, since wild animals will seek other sources of water when the natural ones dry up.

He said leaving water outside for domestic animals can draw wild ones, too.

But other factors can draw mountain lions, too, Freeman explained.

Area residents who feed wildlife such as deer actually end up drawing mountain lions. Freeman said feeding deer is the No. 1 cause leading to finding mountain lions coming into neighborhoods.

Freeman said that, because mountain lions are at the top of the food chain, they eat fresh meat. “They're going to follow the deer herd.”

Even feeding pets outside can draw wildlife, said Freeman. If people stop those feeding habits, they can break the cycle and interrupt the habit of wildlife, which then will move on.

Freeman urged people who have concerns about wildlife to visit the state Fish and Game Web site at ; click on the button on the page's lefthand side for “What to do about nuisance, dangerous or injured wildlife.” That will lead to a page featuring animals from bats to bears, from coyotes to mountain lions, which then directs readers to the Fish and Game's “Keep Me Wild” Web site.

That site devotes a page to mountain lions (, and offers tips for living in mountain lion country, including not feeding deer – which also is illegal.

People in wild areas shouldn't hike, bike or jog alone, and should avoid outdoor activities at dawn, dusk and nighttime, when mountain lions are most active, according to the site. Those who spot a mountain lion shouldn't approach them, but should face the animal, make a noise and try to look bigger.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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