UC Berkeley police issued a campus alert today (Tuesday, July 24) that a mountain lion has been sighted near Gayley Road on the eastern edge of the campus, most recently at around 2:30 a.m. last Thursday, July 19.
It was the third sighting since June by the same security guard at an electrical switching station now under construction on the western side of Stern Hall. Each time, the lion appeared to be trailing a deer, and once was seen with two cubs, UCPD reported.
As a result of the sightings, signs warning of mountain lions have been posted at Stern Hall and Foothill Student Housing.
Mountain lions, also called cougars or pumas, are known to frequent the hills above the campus, and the partially-eaten remains of deer are occasionally reported to the campus. UCPD issued an alert in January after a December 20 report of a lion sighting near Smyth Fernwald Family Housing, which borders open space in Claremont Canyon.
In September 2010, a lion was spotted in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, and shot by police in the backyard of a home near Cedar and Spruce streets.
To reduce the chances of encountering a mountain lion, UCPD urge the public to:
• Avoid hiking alone, especially between dusk and dawn, when lions normally do their hunting. Make plenty of noise while you hike so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.
• Always keep children in sight while hiking and within arm’s reach in areas that can conceal a lion. Mountain lions seem to be drawn to children.
• Hike with a good walking stick; this can be useful in warding off a lion.
Tom Klatt, the campus’s environmental projects manager, noted that the lions typically follow deer, which come down from the hills to forage among the lush shrubbery in yards and parks. He has seen partially-consumed deer carcasses at several sites of brush clearing on campus property in the Berkeley and Oakland hills. Flyers alerting hikers to the presence of mountain lions have been posted in Strawberry Canyon for more than 15 years.
Should you encounter a mountain lion, UCPD recommends the following to reduce the chances of an attack when encountering a mountain lion:
• Do not approach a lion, especially if it is feeding or with its young. Most lions will avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
• Stay calm and face the lion. Do not run, because this may trigger the lion’s instinct to attack. Try to appear larger by raising your hands.
• Pick up small children so they don’t panic and run. This will also make you appear larger. Avoid bending over or crouching.
• If the lion acts aggressively, throw rocks, branches or whatever can be obtained without turning your back or bending over.
• Fight back if attacked. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks or bare hands.
Anyone who sees a mountain lion on campus property is encouraged to report the sighting to UCPD at (510) 642-6760.