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Dept. of Fish and Game: Fair Oaks Mountain Lion Season is Year-Round (MAP)

California Department of Fish and Game officials explain Fair Oaks' unnaturally high population of deer is a natural attractant for mountain lions.

Update:

The above interactive map makes it possible for readers to input local mountain lion sightings with details of the encounter. Simply press the "add" button to make an addition or email joshua.staab@patch.com with the details and the sighting will be included on the map.

Original story:

California Department of Fish and Game Warden Patrick Foy wants to make one thing clear first and foremost: Throughout his 15-year career, he is not aware of a single mountain lion attack on a person in Fair Oaks.

How would he define the probability of a population of mountain lions exisiting in Fair Oaks?

"I'd go as far as to say (Fair Oaks) has an unnaturally high concentration of deer; therefore, there is a high probability of mountain lions," Foy said.

That unnaturally high concentration of deer is probably the result of some of Fair Oaks' more attractive qualities, Foy said.

"It's like an island of green," Foy said, referring to the area's abundance of dense foliage.

Being near an endless supply of water doesn't hurt either, Foy said.

The Fair Oaks foliage being so near to the American River makes the area a very attractive home for deer, which, in turn, supplies the mountain lions with an ample source of food as well. Deer and mountain lions aren't what Foy would describe as migratory animals either, meaning once they've established an area hospitable enough to sustain long-term living, it's unlikely the animals would move on. The animals not being migratory also means there isn't a particular season in which one could see the animals less frequently, Foy said.

"They're not moving in and out of the area; they're always going to be there," Foy said. "It doesn't necessarily vary from season to season."

So what does all of this mean for all of us non-deer- and non-mountain-lion-types living Fair Oaks? For humans, Foy explained it's all about staying proactive.

People should be aware of what to do when encountered by and how to prevent inadvertantly attracting mountain lions in the first place, Foy said. Should one be walking their dog down the American River Parkway, for instance, and happen upon a mountain lion, Foy said there are a number of things one can do:

  • Stand tall and shout aggressively at the animal: This can scare and confuse the mountain lion.
  • Back away slowly: Do not give the mountain lion an easy target, like one's back.
  • Don't turn away and run: This will only provoke the mountain lion into giving chase.
  • Throw rocks: Rocks hurt mountain lions just as much as they hurt anyone else.
  • Carry a whistle: A whistle can do two things: It can turn away the threatening mountain lion or subdue the dog that may be threatening the mountain lion. This will also draw other people to the situation.

And as far as keeping mountain lions off one's property, Foy said the meathod is simple:

"Don't attract deer," he said.

Salt licks, in particular, Foy said are known facilitators of two known problems: The first, is they obviously attract deer, which can lead to the mountain lions. Salt licks are also known bastions for spreading disease as multiple deer will likely graze on the same lick.

It's important to move pets and their food inside at night as that can also attract mountain lions to residential backyards, Foy said.

For more information on mountain lions and California's other wild animals, check out the DFG's Keep Me Wild Program.

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Have you had an encounter with a mountain lion in or around the Fair Oaks area? What was the situation? Include your sighting in the interactive map or e-mail joshua.staab@patch.com with the details and the sighting will be added. 

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Joshua Staab July 10, 2012 at 05:50 PM
That's an interesting point, Brian. What do you to stay prepared/safe when you're out running?
Alex Gronke July 10, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I've heard an antler hat and venison shoes are good protection for runners.
Joshua Staab July 10, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Good news, everyone! Alex has agreed to be your running buddy.
Alex Gronke July 10, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I deserve that.
Garrett July 10, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Don't back away from a Mountain Lion. They have the fight or flight instinct and will attack you if you look like easy prey. Also, only throw rocks if you have them in your hand already. If you lower yourself to the ground to pick up a rock, you look smaller and weak. Maintain eye contact and make yourself look as big and loud as possible.

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