One of the pleasures of hiking in a wilderness area is getting to see nature in action. But when an area of urban sprawl like Los Angeles butts up against those wilderness area, nature sometimes comes to you. And in a couple of recent incidents in Burbank, that nature comes with sharp claws and long teeth. In the early morning hours of January 3, a mountain lion was spotted in the 1000 block of Hamline Place. A local resident was alerted to big cat’s presence by his dogs. When the man went to see what the ruckus was about the animal leapt over a fence and disappeared. Later that night, a mountain lion was caught on a surveillance camera just a short distance to the north in Sun Valley, where a family's Boxer went missing. Both of these incidents followed another sighting from the week before in Glendale where a mountain lion, or puma, was seen dragging an 85-lb Labrador Retriever over a 3 ½ foot wall. More recently, another sighting of a mountain lion occurred on January 29 near the 3000 block of Wedgewood Lane in Burbank. While it is possible there could be more than on big cat on the prowl, all three sightings are well within the territorial range of a single cat, and the odds of multiple pumas crossing the 210 Freeway from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Verdugo Mountains at the same time are slim. Still, a single mountain lion can cause panic in those not accustomed to seeing such large predators hanging out in their backyards.
Experts, however, say the animals pose little threat to humans, preferring to hunt smaller prey like raccoons or coyotes and, heartbreakingly for some, dogs and house cats. Since 1890, there have only been 16 verified attacks on humans by mountain lions, six of which were fatal.
Mountain Lion Safety Tips from
While there seems to be little risk to humans, authorities urge park visitors and local residents to take precautions to prevent antagonizing the cats or making them feel threatened. The California Department of Fish and Game has prepared a list of safety tips (see side bar) to help mitigate attracting a mountain lion’s attention and what to do should one encounter a mountain lion in the wild, even if the wild comes to your backyard.
For more information on P-22 in Griffith Park, read this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Scientists Track Cougar's Wild Nightlife Above Hollywood