News

Hollister park closes indefinitely after mountain lion sighting

An adult with a cub was seen at Brigantino Park on July 19, the park’s Facebook page says.
Brigantino Park notice.
Brigantino Park notice.

Brigantino Park, on San Juan Road in Hollister, closed July 19 following the sighting of an adult mountain lion with a cub and will remain off limits until further notice, according to the park’s Facebook page.

Hollister’s public works department did not respond to calls from BenitoLink for more information. 

The Mountain Lion Foundation website describes the cat as a solitary animal and a relentless hunter. “The search for prey is driven by the cat’s hunger and, in the case of a female, the need to feed growing kittens,” the website states. 

The site also says, “the hungrier the cat, the greater the tendency to roam, with effort focused on areas where prey was previously found. The mountain lion navigates its home range in a zig-zag course, skirting open areas and taking advantage of available cover. The cat’s keen senses are focused to pick up the slightest movement, odor, or sound.” 

Mountain lions are considered a keystone species: a species other species in an ecosystem largely depend on. It is also an umbrella species: a species which needs such a large range that its conservation conserves other species.

The Foundation offers these safety tips to follow in areas likely to have mountain lions. 

  • Be aware.
  • Bring a friend.
  • Wear bright and highly contrasting clothing.
  • Ask park or trail personnel about recent wildlife sightings.
  • Watch for signs and trail postings.
  • Avoid jogging or mountain biking in low-light conditions at dusk and dawn.
  • Stay on the trail, and check maps frequently so that you won’t get lost.
  • Supervise children and keep them within arm’s reach.
  • Keep pets secure on a leash.
  • Don’t approach any wild animal.
  • Give wildlife the time and space to steer clear of you.
  • Be vigilant if you bend over or crouch down.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, mountain lion attacks are rare. They do not typically see humans as prey. Their natural prey are animals such as deer.

The website says mountain lion attacks on humans are uncommon. “Statistically speaking,” it adds, “a person is one thousand times more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion.” Since 1890, there have been few verified mountain lion attacks on humans in California, six of them fatal. In most cases, the person was alone when attacked, the department has said. The website cites 19 attacks since March 1986.

Mountain lions can threaten livestock and the department recommends non-lethal measures to prevent harm.

More information from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is available here.

More information from the Mountain Lion Foundation is available here.

 

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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.