Solvang officials are urging the public to be aware of their surroundings after a mountain lion was seen in and around Hans Christian Anderson Park on Sunday and Monday, according to Parks and Recreation Director Fred Lageman.
“We have three permanent signs in the park warning of mountain lions, however we put two more in the road to make sure the public sees them and knows what to do if they spot one,” Lageman said.
State Fish and Game officials were called to the park Monday but weren’t able to find the animal, which was reported to be about the size of a Labrador retriever, Lageman said.
Lt. Julie McCammon of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department said the easiest way to report a wild animal sighting is to call 9-1-1 so deputies can contact Fish and Game or county Animal Control if necessary.
Although wild animals are Fish and Game’s responsibility, it’s possible that deputies “can corner him and keep him calm until they get there,” McCammon said.
According to Fish and Game, more than half of California is mountain lion habitat, and they generally live wherever deer are found. They are solitary and elusive, and their nature is to avoid humans.
Mountain lions prefer to eat deer but sometimes they also eat pets and livestock. Mountain lions that threaten people are killed immediately. Those that prey on pets or livestock can be killed by a property owner after the owner gets the required depredation permit from Fish and Game.
Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare, the agency says, but conflicts are increasing as California’s human population expands into mountain lion habitat.
Fish and Game advises anyone who encounters a mountain lion not to run, but instead to face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving arms, and even throwing rocks or other objects. If attacked, people are encouraged to fight back.
For more information on mountain lions and other wild animals, visit www.dfg.ca.gov.