San Mateo County

Mountain Lion Sightings on the Rise in the Peninsula

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A growing number of security cameras are capturing mountain lions cruising through neighborhoods on the Peninsula, but experts say something else is going on -- leading to an increasing number of encounters in urban areas.

One of them on the popular Sawyer Camp Trail in San Mateo County has Luther Pugh hitting the breaks on his bike.

Warning other trial users to turn around, he took pictures and video of the unexpected encounter last week.

“Still four or five hours of daylight left to see a lion there,” he said. “I was surprised.”

On the Peninsula, the west side of 280 is mountain lion habitat. But with sightings and encounters on the rise in urban areas the city of San Bruno hosted a virtual mountain lion safety meeting Monday night.

A fish and wildlife expert says they have always been in the area and as more people get security cameras, we are seeing more images of them wandering through neighborhoods.

But something else is going on.

“Fish and wildlife to date have responded to seven instances of mountain lion interactions in urban areas in our region which is adjacent to Santa Cruz mountains in the last year so seven and typically there's one of two,” they said at the meeting.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says in some cases the mountain lions moved along on their own.

In other cases, like one in May in San Francisco, biologists tranquilized the animal and moved it to suitable habitat.

There’s no way to know exactly why the increase in sightings, but officials say the drought could be part of the reason. 

After learning a neighbor in Millbrae has caught a mountain lion on camera several times, Jason Chen is considering turning his fountain off to eliminate a water source.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says if you do see a mountain lion, report it. That way biologists can begin tracking the animals movements and prepare to respond if people are in danger. 

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