Hikers spot mountain lions in Berkeley

Hikers aren’t the only ones enjoying the open space near UC Berkeley lately.

UC police recently warned visitors to be aware when traipsing around in the Berkeley hills, as it seems there is a mama mountain lion and her cubs living near the Greek Theater:

“In the past few weeks there have been several sightings of a mountain lion and her cubs near the Switching Station No. 6 construction site on the western side of Stern Hall.”

The last mountain lion sighting was Thursday. Stern Hall is located on Gayley Road, right by the theater.

Lots of similar sightings were reported near the campus last year as well. Hikers often found deer carcasses as further proof lions were hanging around.

Officers had to shoot an offending lion two years ago after it made its way into the parking lot of the former Elephant Pharmacy.

If you encounter a mountain lion, don’t freeze up. Fighting back is actually a good thing to do, and many have escaped a brush with death by using sticks, stones and even bare hands, Davey-Crockett style.

But to keep yourself from getting into that situation in the first place, here are some helpful pointers:

  • Make a lot of noise when you hike. You don’t want to take a lion by surprise. Maybe try blasting some Skrillex from your headphones. If the lions have any taste at all, they’ll be sure to stay away.
  • Don’t hike alone, especially around dusk and dawn. Lions like to hunt around that time. I mean, seriously, have you seen those “When Animals Attack” specials? Don’t be that guy or gal who wanders off by him or herself.
  • Hike with a walking stick. You can use it to fight off a mountain lion in a desperate situation. Plus, it will make you look like a BAMF.

And if you do stumble across a mountain lion:

  • Don’t approach it. Lions are totally anti-social, especially when eating or feeding its young. They usually don’t like confrontation, but don’t press your luck by trying to take pictures or striking up conversation. Lions aren’t your friends and really don’t want to hear about how sweet your truck is. Be nice and give it a chance to creep away.
  • If it comes at you, face the lion at all times. Don’t run away. Running might make the lion think “lunchtime.” Raise your arms to try to make yourself look bigger. Mountain lions have self-esteem issues and will slink away if they think you’re too big.
  • Keep children near you and pick them up if you see a lion in your path. Like all predators, mountain lions will go for the children of prey because they are easy targets.
  • Same goes for pets. Don’t let them get too far ahead of you. And ideally keep them on a leash. Don’t rely on Fido to save you. Mountain lions will go for the head and neck of prey, so if your pet and a lion get into a scuffle, it could spell doom.