Monday, October 09, 2006

Encounters with cougars unlikely in Southern California

Shy and elusive cougars are not likely to cross paths with humans but park officials do suggest that groups of two or more people stay together for safety in mountain park areas.

If you encounter a lion on a trail, it's best to make yourself look large and intimidating by standing tall, waving your hands and making loud noises, said Woody Smeck, superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

But seeing a mountain lion in the wild is extremely rare and attacks don't take often place.

"In my 15 years working in the Santa Monica Mountains, I have yet to see a mountain lion," Smeck said. "We have been very impressed and surprised at where the mountain lions go," said Ray Sauvajot, a scientist and planner for the National Park Service. The cats sometimes venture around developed areas, including residences and popular trails, but they manage to do this without detection.

"We have essentially not verified reports of the lions being seen by people and no incidents where lions have threatened pets or people," he said. "We've been surprised by where they go, but pleased by their behaviors-in other words, we're happy that the lions stay out of trouble."

For more information about mountain lions and safety, visit facts_safety.asp.

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