Mountain lion sightings in Berkeley raise concerns

“Neighborhood watch dog” Yeti on alert in front of a sign warning of mountain lion sightings in Berkeley. Photo: Robin Gal

Concerns about mountain lions prowling the Berkeley hills are mounting with new reported sightings and the posting of signs alerting local residents to their possible presence.

On Thursday Nov. 15, UC Berkeley police received unconfirmed information of a mountain lion sighting near Building 26 at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). UCPD conducted a search of the area and was unable to locate any signs of mountain lion activity or presence.

The last sighting reported in the media was on Oct. 19 when a woman walking with her child in a stroller and their dog on a trail spotted a cougar next to a Kensington home near the Berkeley border.

Until yesterday, the last mountain lion report received by the California Department of Fish & Game was on Oct. 11, according to Lt. Patrick Foy, who added that it was never confirmed.


The incident on Oct. 11 resulted in some staff at the Berkeley Lab being told to shelter in place after reports of a female lion and her cubs on Lab property.

Foy said the department receives daily calls about mountain lions from around in the state. He said generally law enforcement would not take any action automatically, unless the animal is posing a direct threat. He added that although the department is sometimes asked to relocate the animals, this isn’t often a step it would take.

Berkeley resident Robin Gal said two signs have recently been posted behind her home on Summit Road. “We have had mountain lions before, but never have we had the signs. Perhaps the population has increased, or perhaps the Eucalyptus reduction at Berkeley Labs changed their habitat?” she said. It is not clear who posted the signs.

Deer are a major food source for mountain lions. Last year, several sightings of mountain lions occurred in the hills above the Berkeley campus and carcasses of animals suspected to have been attacked by mountain lions were also discovered.

On Aug. 17, the sighting of a female mountain lion with her cubs also put the Lab on alert. And in July there was concern that a lion with her cubs might be living near the Greek Theatre after they were seen on Gayley Road.

Gal took a photo of Yeti, who she refers to as the “neighborhood watch patrol dog who is blind and deaf” next to one of the signs. “I am not walking him in the early morning or late evenings; a recent change of habit! ” she said.

Update, 11.17.12: Read guidelines issued by UCPD on how to prevent encounters with mountain lions and what to do if you do encounter one.

Related:
Mountain lion closes parts of road, Lab staff shelter in place [10.11.12]
Berkeley Lab on alert after sighting of lion and cubs [08.17.12]
Mountain lion and her cubs spotted in Berkeley hills [07.24.12]
Mountain lion possibly spotted at UC apartments Tuesday [01.12.12]
Mountain lion tours Gourmet Ghetto [8.31.10]

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