A UCSC Cruz Alert was sent out on November 28 warning of two mountain lions spotted near the base of the UCSC campus. Mountain lions do occasionally move through campus property, due to the many preserved acres of land in Upper Campus and Pogonip, and the adjacency of large protected areas including Wilder Ranch and Henry Cowell State Parks. The actual presence of mountain lions on the UCSC campus is not particularly out of the ordinary; mountain lions regularly have to move amongst developed areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains due to the high human footprint that fragments our wild habitats.
Despite the presence of mountain lions near the UCSC campus, the probability of a negative encounter with a mountain lion is low. Conflicts with mountain lions are almost impossibly rare in California. Although millions of people live and recreate in mountain lion habitat every day in California, there have only been three physical encounters in the state in the last ten years, all of which were non-lethal. (For more information on mountain lion attacks in California, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/lion/attacks.html)
Although negative encounters with mountain lions are unlikely, it is never a bad decision to be informed and use safe practices when living near wild places. Always be aware of your surroundings, and try to walk with a buddy at night near forested areas. If you do come across a puma, remember the following steps: 1) do not run; 2) raise your hands over your head; 3) make noise. In nearly all cases, the mountain lion will be deterred by these actions and walk or run away. In the rare case of an attack, fight back. Please read more about living with pumas at http://santacruzpumas.org/faq/.