Mountain Lion Sightings Peak In Bay Area


A mountain lion sits on a fence, ready to pounce.

John Coupin

The Bay Area is typically thought of as a populated industrialized region that cannot sustain a biologically diverse ecosystem. However, up the hill above the Moraga Country Club golf course, lies a pristine wilderness that still blooms with life. The blacktail deer that Orinda residents often see are the favorite prey of Bay Area mountain lions that live on the boundaries of Miramonte.

“About a dozen mountain lion sightings have been reported on the golf course in the last 10 years,” said MCC Golf pro Jason Woodworth.

Eleven months ago a large female deer was found dead by a golf course maintenance worker. The carcass was found with bloody and apparently lethal bite marks to its neck, and much of its hind quarter had been eaten. This shocking discovery was found on the hole, which is located on the hillside above the Miramonte Gardens.

“Another mountain lion kill was found on Friday, Feb. 4 below the 13th fairway,” said Woodworth.

After groups of golfers passed by the 13th hole, a call was placed to the headquarters around 5:00 p.m. They reported that a fawn was dead from severe mauling by what seemed to be a large animal.

“The deer’s throat was chewed and a lot of its hide was torn and bloody,” remarked MCC employee Ian Cook. “It’s a bit frightening that this kill must have happened during the day while golfers were on the course.”
Recently there have been a few reports of mountain lions coming further down into towns. On Aug. 30, Berkeley police had to shoot a large cat wandering in a vacant lot near Shattuck Ave. Also, MCC has video evidence of these cats coming all the way down to the ponds that line Moraga Way. So, is our safety something to worry about?

Though these majestic beasts live next to us, most Orinda residents have little idea of their behavior and what to do if you encounter one. Unlike black bears that roam California, mountain lion behavior can be very unpredictable. A healthy mountain lion will usually consume 12-18 deer a year and inhabit a range of up to 100 square miles. They are fast enough to run at speeds of 40 mph and are able to leap 18 feet vertically and up to 40 feet horizontally.

The mountain lions’ ability to drag down prey weighing up to 400 pounds is a clear indicator that a human is no match against such an animal. Wildlife experts advise those that spot a mountain lion to stop and slowly back up while keeping their shoulders squared. Throw your hands up in the air and shout to make your appearance larger and less vulnerable to an attack. Almost all lethal encounters with mountain lions occur when humans are running, riding bikes, or fleeing. The second you turn and run, the mountain lion sees you as prey and will begin to chase.