How do mountain lions find their way into urban areas?

Mountain lions seem to be finding their way into urban areas more and more. This is because their habitat is being continually fragmented as we develop into wild areas. Mountain lion kittens stay with their mothers for 18-24 months after which time they disperse (move away) to establish territories of their own.

As mountain lion habitat becomes more fragmented, dispersing young mountain lions often find their way into urban areas by accident. Urbanization and habitat fragmentation disrupts the natural dispersal landscape, and reduces the amount of available territory for dispersing young.

Mountain lions are just as afraid of you as you are of them. The best thing to do if you encounter a mountain lion in an urban area is contact local wildlife authorities and do not interfere. They are just trying to find their way back to the wild!

If you live on the edge of the urban-wildlife interface, where mountain lions may be dispersing, there are some cautions you can take to keep yourself, your pets and mountain lions safe.

  • Do not feed wildlife (such as deer or turkeys) near your home, as attracting mountain lion prey animals to your home can also attract mountain lions to your home.
  • Don’t leave out pet food that could be attracting opossums and raccoons, which in turn could attract mountain lions to your property.
  • Keep your yard clear of plants that deer like, so as to discourage them coming to your property.
  • Trim shrubs and bushes around your property to remove possible hiding places for mountain lions.
  • Keep your pets inside from dusk to dawn.
  • Lock goats, sheep and other vulnerable animals in fully enclosed enclosures from dusk to dawn.
  • Do not leave small children or pets unattended outside.
Diana Lakeland

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