More on the encounter between hikers and mountain lions

By on Sat, February 6, 2010

Tom Stienstra at the Chron has an interesting account of the encounter between two brothers and a couple of mountain lions in Pescadero Creek County Park, "a remote, lightly visited open space with no facilities".

Residents in the vicinity of Loma Mar and La Honda have been warned. The was also another lion sighting just north of the park, but it’s not clear if it was one of the lions sighted Sunday.

They hiked on Camp Pomponio Road, which goes through middle of park, and about 10 minutes in, wandered a few hundred yards off the trail, Foy said.

Near a creek, in a clearing at the edge of a densely vegetated area, a mountain lion emerged and walked right up to one of the hikers.

"The hiker shouted aggressively, but the lion did not go away," Foy said. "So he picked up a big stick and swung at the lion. His brother came to his side and a second lion started closing in."

Foy said the hiker never struck either cougar but eventually "managed to drive off the lions."

The hikers then started to return to their car, but looked back and saw the lions were following them. "You could see them the whole time," one told game wardens. [...]

Although mountain lion attacks are rare, they have become more numerous in the past couple of decades. According to Fish and Game records, all but three of the confirmed attacks on people in California since 1890 have happened in the past 25 years.

The increase coincided with state voters’ approval of a 1990 initiative designating mountain lions as a protected species, even though they were not threatened or endangered. The lions filled existing habitat and then expanded their range, at the same time the human population was moving farther into previously open space.