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Imagine you are a mountain lion...(9 posts)

Imagine you are a mountain lion...mr_spin
Nov 27, 2001 3:04 PM
I did a mountain bike ride on a trail down near L.A. on Thanksgiving Day. I haven't done this trail in two years, partly because the last time I did it I came around a corner and saw a mountain lion sitting on the trail. It was actually a cub. I thought it was a coyote at first, so I kept riding, hoping it would scurry away, but as I got closer, I noticed it had big thick cat paws. And it was giving my that quizzical look that cats do, where they sit there, cock their heads with a goofy smile. It was very cute, but I figured mama cat isn't far away, so I turned around and went home. Coyotes will move out of your way, but I'm not sure about big cats!

A year or so later I ran into (almost literally) a full size adult mountain lion that snarled at me. That one wasn't so cute. We stared each other down before it jumped into the bushes and disappeared. I turned around and went home. I certainly wasn't going to keep going!

Anyway, because I've had two experiences with mountain lions, I think about them a lot when I'm riding alone. I try to imagine how they would stalk me and where they would pounce. Would they come up from behind and jump on my back? Would they hit me from the side? Would I even have a chance? Does my slow moving, leaf cracking, heavy breathing form sound like prey? How often is there a cat sitting there just out of sight, watching me go by?

Frankly, I'm not sure I want to know the answers to these questions. But I'm curious if anyone else feels strange riding out there in the wild and on the backroads.

Once, not long after my second encounter, I was thinking about this stuff so much, I convinced myself I was being stalked and I turned around and went home. It was perfect for an attack--I was riding in a gully with dark trees on the high ground on both sides. But yes, I agree, freaking out there is kind of pathetic. But when you live in a town that got its name because of all the mountain lions around (Los Gatos), it isn't all that far-fetched!
Occurs to me sometimes...cory
Nov 27, 2001 3:43 PM
Dept of Wildlife had to shoot three lions within a half-mile of my house a couple of years ago (mother and large twin cubs; no place to transplant them). There are plenty of deer in the mountains around Reno this time of year, and the lions follow the deer. I did a story about how to prevent/respond to an attack for the paper I work for just a month or two ago. Can't find it in our archives or I'd post a link, but there's plenty available online already.
Humans are actually pretty big prey for most lions, and attacks are rare--but they do happen, and the incidence seems to be increasing. The basic advice is just common sense: Keep your eyes open, ride in groups, don't go at dusk or dawn. hard for me; I like to go by myself. If you do see a lion, make yourself look big, make noise, throw rocks (but don't bend over to pick rocks up, one source said, because it makes you look smaller. Can't figure that one out). Leave it an escape route and it will probably go away. It's that "probably" that worries me...and we have bears, too.
All cats can be dangerouscyclingman
Nov 27, 2001 8:00 PM
My wife is a medical school student. She has a box containing most of a real human skeleton that she has to study. I went upstairs this evening to see how her studying was going and Ion (one of our kittens) ran across the room and tried to take off across the house with the hand of her skeleton. It was hilarious. He had one finger in his mouth and just took off. My wife stopped him quickly. Apparently this was not the first attempt of the evening.

Mountain lions are not the only threat we face.:)
Where did you see it?mickey-mac
Nov 27, 2001 10:15 PM
I saw a full-grown lion in the Santa Monica Mountains on a trail not far from the Mountaingate community. Where were you riding in the L.A. area?
Nov 28, 2001 7:54 AM
Out of Malibu Creek State Park. Just past the old M*A*S*H set. I love that whole area. The lion was about 1/2 mile from the top, which kinda pissed me off because it is a grind. I was so close to touching the top!

The Bulldog-Backbone loop and Rocky Peak/Chumash/Hummingbird out in Simi Valley are actually the only mountain trails I've ridden in L.A. I grew up out in the west valley (roscoe and valley circle), but wasn't into cycling then.
re: Imagine you are a mountain lion...DINOSAUR
Nov 27, 2001 10:28 PM
Years ago on the dirt trail that runs between Auburn and Cool Ca (believe it is part of the Cal-States Western 100 trail) a lady ultra distance runner was attacked and killed by a mountain lion. They determined that the lion had stalked and followed her and waited for an inopportune moment and jumped from above the trail and knocked her down before attacking her. The runner put up a fight but was no match. Shortly after, further up from Auburn (Meadow Vista) a mountain lion was attacking and killing family dogs and livestock (sheep and goats). A professional tracker was hired by Fish And Game and the lion was hunted down and destroyed. The problem is that their habitat area is being overrun by civilization and they have to venture out into occuppied areas for food. We also had a large black bear (400 lbs) hit on the freeway and killed. Turns out Yosemite was dropping all their problem bears out into Georgetown and they would wander a few miles into towns. I saw a mountain lion in the wild once, an impressive sight. Hopefully they won't mistake me for a deer, which is a fear as the deer run wild all over the place up here.
I've read that the mountain lions jump and ponce from above, if thats a help. I dunno, might be a good idea to ride with other people. I havn't heard of a cyclist being attacked by a mountain lion. I think it's rare when they attack people, but I wouldn't want to find out...
re: Imagine you are a mountain lion...Jon
Nov 28, 2001 8:31 AM
I remember the attack on the Ultra runner. Got quite a lot of publicity at the time. A noted age-
group marathoner, Marcy Trent was attacked and killed several years ago up in Alaska, where
she lived. We've had a number of cougar incidents around Victoria, B.C. in the last few years. Seems
they like to stalk and attack children in school yards. Here in Alberta, incidents involve mostly
hikers and mountain bikers surprising bears. When riding up in the mountain parks I always
give doe Elk with fawns and bucks in rutting season a wide birth. About a 30 min. bike ride
from my place is Elk Island National Park which is home to a huge herd of wild bison. In August
and Sept. you have to really be careful about not crowding the bulls. There have been a
number of instances where hikers and cyclists have been attacked and injured. Fortunately,
no fatalities.
Stop speculatingM. Lion
Nov 28, 2001 4:49 PM
As you may have guessed from my name, I am a mountain lion. Though I frequently see mountain bikers in my territory and find them to be a tremendous nuisance, I would never consider going after a cyclist except in dire circumstances. Think about it: Why waste time and energy tracking down and attacking a cyclist when pudgy hikers are much easier and tastier prey? Every weekend, I see numerous chubby people who have decided that hiking will be a great way to get in shape. They head to the local REI and buy a brand-new hiking boots, some of those shorts with a butt-load of pockets, and safari-style hats. Looking stylish, they head for the hills, where I wait behind a bush. After 200 to 300 yards of strenuous hiking, most of these people start to develop blisters from the new boots or start to chafe between their thighs from the new shorts. They'd be easy enough to catch without these minor physical ailments. With them, catching them and bringing them down is like shooting fish in a barrel. So, despite the fact that you cyclists make a lot of noise and scare away my prey, I probably won't attack you. However, if I do, my favorite method of attack is . . . . Well never mind. I don't want to give away all my secrets.
you are no match for a real Woof like myself!!!Woof the dog
Nov 29, 2001 12:20 AM
i bet mtn. lions don't have to chase anything, as they are probably much faster in that kind of terrain than anything, except for maybe me.

I think I read an article about a guy (either a dog trainer or karate guy, don't remember, though) who was attacked and his experience wrestling animals helped him win the fight. If you search for "killer squirrels" and find the site, that article may be found on there as well...I think.

Baking dog cakes