Alta Sierra resident Roger Bond spotted a mountain lion in the early morning hours Friday in his backyard, located about a quarter-mile from Alta Sierra Elementary School.
“It was about 4:30 a.m. when I heard this noise outside my kitchen,” Bond said. “I turned my outdoor lights on, and I saw a big cat just across Wolf Creek with what looked like two cubs.”
The mountain lion had recently killed a doe, dragged it across the creek and was busy eating it with her offspring, Bond said. The next morning, when he ventured outside to assess what had happened, all that remained of the doe was its head and bones.
Jayme Rath, an Alta Sierra Elementary School teacher, said she and her colleagues at the school were employing extra vigilance in the wake of the report.
“We are taking precautions, including a little extra attention from the adults at the school,” Rath said.
Bond said he called the California Department of Fish and Game to report the sighting.
The incident follows a summer of several sightings of the predatory creatures, including an early July incident of a camper sleeping near the Yuba River being attacked by a mountain lion. A 63-year-old man was asleep in his mummy bag next to a tributary to the Yuba River, northwest of Nevada City, when he was attacked by a mountain lion.
The man said the mountain lion bit and clawed him through his sleeping bag, biting through the cap he was wearing and his clothes. The animal then ceased the attack, looked at him from 15 feet away for another 15-30 seconds and ran off. The man drove himself to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for severe scratches and puncture wounds.
Specially trained dogs attempted to track the mountain lion but were not successful. They did find the remains of one domestic cat with injuries consistent with a mountain lion attack.
Mountain lion attacks in California are rare with only 15 verified incidents since 1890; of those, six were reported as fatalities.
Mountain lions are only killed if they are declared a public safety threat, according to the California Department of Fish and Game website.
Factors considered when determining if a mountain lion is a threat to the public include proximity to schools, playgrounds and other public gathering places along with whether or not the animal consistently displays aggressive behavior towards humans.
Fish and Game receives hundreds of phone calls regarding mountain lion sighting on an annual basis, three percent of which result in the animal being declared a public safety threat. However, it has become increasingly common for mountain lions to prey on pets and livestock, Fish and Games states. The agency receives hundreds of reports of dead pets and livestock due to mountain lion depredation.
Mary Adams, who lives on Greenhorn Road and operates a llama farm, said she and her husband are extra watchful of potential mountain lion incursions. Last week, a neighbor to the couple spotted a mountain lion crossing Greenhorn Road in broad daylight.
Adams said she knows a rancher in the area who recently lost two llamas in a mountain lion attack.
Adams usually allows fellow ranchers to use her 12-acre property as a sanctuary, but now she has stepped up her vigilance, she said.
Recommendations for deterring mountain lion attacks on livestock include proper fencing, frightening devices and guard animals. Some dogs are bred for the specific purpose of warding off wildlife from livestock.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.