Two reports of mountain lions this week south of Redlands prompted the closure of the Saha’tapa Loop Trail on Friday, Oct. 21.
The mountain lions did not attack the hikers who saw the animals on the trail, said Ross Wittman, a city spokesman. It was unclear whether the hikers saw the same animal.
The most recent sighting in the canyon areas was reported south of Gateway Ranch, 31313 Live Oak Canyon Road.
While there have been several mountain lion sightings in Redlands, there have been no documented reports of attacks on humans, Wittman said.
“There are deer and other wildlife in that area, so it wouldn’t be considered unusual for mountain lions to be there as well,” state Department of Fish & Wildlife spokesman Tim Daly said.
About half the land in California is considered mountain lion habitat, he said. There are hundreds of sightings reported each year but few result in threats to people.
The last documented human-lion attack in California occurred in June 2020 in San Diego County, Wittman said.
Reports of sightings have increased because more people are carrying cameras and more people were outside during the COVID-19 pandemic, Daly said.
Fish & Wildlife officials offer several suggestions on how to avoid attracting mountain lions. Among them, don’t feed deer, raccoons or other wildlife that mountain lions prey on. Keep pets and livestock inside or in a secure kennel. And removing dense, low-lying vegetation eliminates hiding places for mountain lions.
Children should be kept inside after dark and hikers should not go out alone.
If you encounter a mountain lion, keep children close and do not approach it. Running away could stimulate its instinct to chase; instead, face the animal, make eye contact and do all you can to appear larger such as raising your arms, opening your jacket and throwing stones and rocks.
More information on mountain lions may be found on the Fish & Wildlife website at wildlife.ca.gov.