Cougars in Residential Areas Aren’t as Dangerous as You Think

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BAKERSFIELD, CA (KGETComment) — Have you met a cougar or seen one in person? Not many people do, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has explained why.

In recent years, more wildlife has been filmed near neighborhoods and residences and shared on the internet and social media. Some may wonder if this is due to the state of the environment or other causes.

In reality, wild animals have always existed, we just don’t see them as often, as CDFW’s Ken Paglia pointed out in a phone interview.

Now that technology is advancing at such a pace and is readily available to the average consumer, so is video from doorbell cameras, wildlife cameras, and trail cameras. Hence, why it might seem like more wildlife, including mountain lions, are coming closer than you’d like to your home and neighborhoods, Paglia explained.

Recently, a Kern County resident in the Bear Valley Springs area caught a mountain lion wandering in the driveway and around his house on camera. That’s the key to remember here, “camera.”

Paglia with CDFW says there’s not much to worry about.

Typically, when you see a mountain lion in a residential area, it’s usually a young male lion that has left his mother’s side and is looking for his own territory, Paglia said.

Cougars are simply trying to find their way to another location and sometimes crossing a residential area is part of this process.

Paglia said there are four to six thousand mountain lions in California and wherever you find deer, you will also find mountain lions. Occasionally mountain lions will try to attack a pet or small animal.

Sometimes cougars venture into residential areas due to droughts, fires, and other environmental factors, but most of the time they are just passing through.

In a recent situation, however, a mountain lion wandered into a neighborhood in Selma and stayed. What are you doing?

Respect the animal and give it space, said Paglia. Most cougars are generally not dangerous and will leave the area if you give them space. Like any wild animal, cougars can be dangerous, but it is extremely rare for a lion to attack humans out of the blue.

If you encounter a situation like in Selma, call the police.

Call local law enforcement and they will assess the situation, Paglia said. Once assessed, they can call the fish and wildlife department. Fish and wildlife will first try to move it away from the area and allow it to return to its own habitat. If that doesn’t work or there’s no direct path to its habitat, relocation is the next option.

So the next time you see a mountain lion on camera, don’t worry, it’s just passing by.

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