The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has confirmed a mountain lion attacked a 63-year-old man who was camping northwest of Nevada City. The attack occurred in the early morning hours of July 1.
The man was traveling through Nevada County on a planned hiking trip and decided to stop for the night to sleep. He laid a sleeping bag out on a tributary to the Yuba River. At approximately 1 a.m. he was attacked in his sleeping bag for what he reported to be between 90 seconds and two minutes.
He said the animal attacked, bit and clawed him through his sleeping bag. He said it bit through the cap he was wearing and his clothes. The animal ceased the attack, looked at him from 15 feet away for another 15 – 30 seconds, then ran into the night. The man drove himself to a hospital in Grass Valley where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries and later released.
DFG wardens responded to the hospital and verified that he had suffered severe scratches and puncture wounds. They collected several articles of clothing and his sleeping bag, which were analyzed at DFG’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento.
Wardens also responded to the attack scene where they found lion tracks. Specially trained dogs attempted to track the lion but were not successful. They also found the remains of one domestic cat with injuries consistent with a lion attack. The effort to find the lion continues.
California has now had 15 confirmed mountain lion attacks since 1890.
How to avoid mountain lion attacks
You may be attracting mountain lions to your property without knowing it, says the California Department of Fish and Game.
More than half of California is mountain lion habitat. Mountain lions generally exist wherever deer are found. They are solitary and elusive, and their nature is to avoid humans.
Mountain lions prefer deer but, if allowed, they also eat pets and livestock. In extremely rare cases, even people have fallen prey to mountain lions.
Mountain lions that threaten people are immediately killed. Those that prey on pets or livestock can be killed by a property owner after the required depredation permit is secured. Moving problem mountain lions is not an option. It can cause deadly conflicts with other mountain lions already living in the new location, or the relocated mountain lion returns to the previous location.
Tips for living in mountain lion country:
—Don’t feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
—Deer-proof your landscaping by avoiding plants that deer like to eat. For tips, request “A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage” from DFG offices.
—Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
—Don’t leave small children or pets outside unattended.
—Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
—Provide sturdy, covered shelters for sheep, goats and other vulnerable animals.
—Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active — dawn, dusk and at night.
—Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums and other potential mountain lion prey.
Tips for staying safe in mountain lion country:
—Mountain lions are quiet, solitary and elusive, and typically avoid people.
—Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare. However, conflicts are increasing as California’s human population expands into mountain lion habitat.
—Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
—Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active — dawn, dusk and at night.
—Keep a close watch on small children.
—Do not approach a mountain lion.
—If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms. Throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
—If attacked, fight back.
—If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.
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