(Mountain) lions, bobcats and bears, oh my!
Several residents called the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) recently to report encounters or sightings of mountain lions in Somersett. To address concerns, educators Jessica Wolff and Jessica Heitt of NDOW came to The Club at Town Center to talk about the coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and black bears – that live near and among us here at Somersett.
Residents who attended had the opportunity to examine skulls of the four species and to stroke their pelts. The educators stressed how important it is to discourage wild creatures from getting comfortable with humans, which could lead to disastrous encounters.
One key way to keep these creatures from entering your property is to rid it of any potential food source, such as pet food, garbage cans and – surprisingly – bird feeders. Jessica Wolff explained that seeds from the feeder will inevitably end up on the ground, where they attract rodents, which are a tempting target for coyotes and bobcats in particular.
And if you should encounter any of these creatures on your property or while walking through the community, the educators advised to stand tall, stand your ground and try to frighten them – make noise, bang on pans, squirt a coyote with a hose. When an animal associates a human with a scary experience, it will exercise avoidance. “Be mean! Scare them off,” said Jessica Heitt.
NDOW has these tips for residents:
To prevent conflicts with mountain lions we suggest the following:
- Remove any unnecessary attractants like food and shelter around your property (clear any brush or shrubs around your property).
- Keep pets in enclosed pens that have a floor and a roof (coyotes are good jumpers and bobcats can climb).
- Install motion-activated deterrent devices like lights, sprinklers or noisemakers.
Read more: Is it a mountain lion or a bobcat?
Here is some helpful information about mountain lions, also known as cougars, from Living with Mountain Lions in Nevada, a brochure published by the Nevada Department of Wildlife:
What to do if you meet a mountain lion:
- When you walk or hike in mountain lion country, go in groups and make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising a lion. A sturdy walking stick is a good idea; it can be used to ward off a lion. Make sure children are close to you and within your sight at all times. Talk with children about lions and teach them what to do if they meet one.
- DO NOT APPROACH A LION, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- STAY CALM when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly yet firmly to it. Move slowly.
- STOP OR BACK AWAY SLOWLY if you can do it safely. Running may stimulate a lion’s instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.
- DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you’re wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they won’t panic and run. If the lion is aggressive, THROW STONES, BRANCHES OR WHATEVER you can get your hands on without crouching down or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly. What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may be a danger to the lion.
- FIGHT BACK if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven away by prey that fights back. People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully. Remain standing or try to get back up!
Mountain lion facts
- Number of mountain lions in Nevada: Over 2,000
- Lifespan: 12-15 years in the wild
- Range in Nevada: 25 square miles (females); Up to 115 square miles (males)
- Peak months for births: April through July
- Litter: 2 to 3 kittens