Mountain lion sightings continue to be a rare but exhilarating experience in the Mother Lode.
California Department of Fish and Game Information Officer Steve Martarano says mountain lion sightings have increased in California as development spreads and humans encroach on wildlife habitat. The DFG files a report each time a sighting is reported. Martarano says it´s best to travel in pairs or groups in the back-country. If a lion does attack, it´s best to fight back.
“If a lion does attack, fight with it. Don´t play dead. You want to make the lion believe you´re not their primary prey. Because you´re not.”
While mountain lion attacks are very rare, they do occur. A pair of Orange County residents were attacked while mountain biking last year. California voter approved Proposition-117 banned the hunting of lions in the state in 1990. Historically, there have been only 2 mountain lion hunting seasons in California. They occurred in 1971 and 1972.
Martarano says many more lions have been killed by people attaining a depredation permit than were ever killed by hunters. DFG issues depredation permits to residents that can demonstrate a wild animal poses a threat to life or property.
A new proposal to re-instigate a hunting season on mountain lions has been introduced recently in the state legislature. The plan would need the support of 4/5ths law makers to overturn the voter endorsed hunting ban.