The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is advising hikers and residents along the foothills and mountains of Palm Springs to be cautious after a golf course worker’s recent encounter with an aggressive mountain lion.
On the evening of Friday, March 28, 2014 a mountain lion charged a worker from behind as he was closing a gate. The worker was able to seek refuge by positioning himself behind a large iron gate. The lion was eventually deterred when the man raised his arms over his head and yelled at it.
CDFW biologists were notified of the incident several days later and investigated, but were unable to find signs of the lion at the scene. This incident is considered a threatening encounter, but because it does not rise to the level of public safety, no further action will be taken by CDFW. Under state law and CDFW policy, lions can be taken if they become an imminent threat to public safety.
Mountain lions are wide-ranging animals that can wander over areas as large as 200 square miles. Lions are widely spread out in the Coachella Valley and CDFW reminds walkers and hikers to be aware of their surroundings and use caution in light of this recent incident.
It is rare, but not unheard of, for mountain lions to threaten people. On average fewer than 10 public safety incidents involving mountain lions occur in California annually. In the event of an encounter with an aggressive mountain lion, CDFW recommends that you do what you can to appear larger. For example, open your jacket or raise arms over your head. If attacked, FIGHT BACK! People have successfully repelled lion attacks using caps, sticks and canteens or whatever else they had on hand.
Since 1986, there have been 14 verified mountain lion attacks on people in California, including six fatalities. The last fatality was in January 2004 in Orange County.
Problem mountain lions – those that threaten people, kill livestock or are a nuisance — cannot be relocated. Relocation is illegal in California and is biologically unsound. Studies have shown that relocated mountain lions have poor rates of survival and rarely stay at release sites, and their undesirable behaviors are unaffected by the relocation.
Kevin Brennan, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (760) 749-3270
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944