Mountain lions are notoriously solitary big cats, that’s why scientists at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were perplexed to see five traveling together in a home surveillance video just outside the El Dorado National Forest. While mountain lions can sometimes be seen together during mating season, or even a mother with her cubs, the size of the big cats in the video just don’t add up.
“We shared the videos and photos with several of our wildlife biologists, and none of them could recall ever seeing five mountain lions together,” said Peter Tira, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Scientists speculate that the largest in the video is the mother and the rest are the cubs, but it’s rare to see more than three at a time. Typically, mothers chase off their cubs after a year to return to solitary living.
“They’re not very tolerant of other mountain lions in their territories,” Tira said.
The video (above) shows the five mountain lions walking onto a driveway and then crossing the street near Jackson, California. The video was taken by the home of Chris Bruetsch and officials aren’t so worried about their interactions with humans, but rather the pets and livestock in the area.
“Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people by nature,” CDFW says on its website. “However, as the human population expands into mountain lion habitat, more frequent sightings may occur and human/mountain lion encounters may increase.”
The CDFW outlined several steps people can take if they encounter a mountain lion:
- Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.
- DO NOT RUN. Stay calm. Running may trigger a chase, catch and kill response. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms or opening your jacket if wearing one; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
- Do not crouch down or bend over. Squatting puts you in a vulnerable position of appearing much like a four-legged prey animal.
- Be vocal; however, speak calmly and do not use high-pitched tones or high-pitched screams.
- If a lion attacks, fight back. Research on mountain lion attacks suggests that many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, garden tools, even an ink pen or bare hands. Try to stay on your feet. If knocked down, try to protect your head and neck.
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine