Mountain lion spotted on camera prowling streets of downtown Oceanside: Police

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Oceanside police have confirmed the recent sightings of a mountain lion prowling the streets of Oceanside this week.

The mountain lion was spotted in several areas of the city — including looking through the windows of an Oceanside movie theater — sometime between Monday and Wednesday night, according to OPD Officer Tom Bussey. Sightings were reported at:

  • 200 and 300 block of North Coast Highway near the Oceanside City Hall
  • 1100 block of South Coast Hwy
  • State Route 76 at Rancho Del Oro near Ivey Ranch Park
A mountain lion could be seen on surveillance footage walking through the Oceanside City Hall parking garage sometime between March 4 and 6, according to Oceanside Police Department. (Oceanside Police Department)

Surveillance footage captured the mountain lion walking through a courtyard near Oceanside City Hall and by the parking garage near that same city hall, according to Officer Bussey.

If you see mountain lions, do NOT approach or disturb them, the Oceanside Police Department and California Department of Fish & Wildlife says. Avoid the mountain lion and report the sighting to the OPD immediately by calling 760-435-4911.

If you call the department, be prepared to give the location and time of the sighting.

OPD has already contacted the California Department of Fish & Wildlife regarding the recent sightings. The department is monitoring the situation in collaboration with OPD.

If the mountain lion becomes aggressive, hostile or is seen near a school or park, please call 9-1-1 immediately, the department says.

A human wildlife conflict specialist weighs in

As their name states, mountain lions prefer the mountains and it’s very unusual to see them in city streets like Oceanside. They prefer some dense vegetation for cover, which they find in the coastal sage scrub of Southern California, according to Megan Senour, Human Wildlife Conflict Specialist at the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Senour thinks this mountain lion ended up in downtown Oceanside through “wildlife corridors.” Wildlife doesn’t see property boundaries the way humans do, Senour added.

“So they use what we call wildlife corridors. So nice green spaces, drainages, anything like that. That’s the kind of path of least resistance, and they’ll use those to travel along, find resources, all things like that. And so that’s likely what this animal used to kind of access that more urban downtown area,” Senour told NBC 7.

Human contact with mountain lions are very uncommon, Senour said.

“Those interactions are incredibly rare, but certainly there are things that we can do as members of the public when we live and recreate in mountain lion country. Half of the state is considered mountain lion habitat,” Senour said.

What to do if you encounter a mountain lion

If you’re going to be moving around, such as hiking or camping in mountain lion country, Senour suggests going with another person or in a group, make noise, talk, or play music to avoid a surprise interaction, which is usually when those interactions occur.

“A lot of folks recreate in mountain lion country without incidents. So it really is — to emphasize — it’s incredibly rare for there to be even an interaction in general. Mountain lions want to avoid us just as much as we want to avoid them. They don’t want to see us — the weird two legged hairless creatures walking around. We’re just as odd for them as they are for us for seeing them,” Senour said.

Most mountain lion interactions do tend to involve pets or small animals, according to Senour.

Make sure you’re not letting your pets into the backyard by themselves and are closely monitoring them, keeping them on leashes and indoors whenever possible, she said.

“We typically have rule of thumb for leash walking is nothing that’s longer than 6ft and it’s non retractable,” she said.

Ramona Wildlife Center specialist weighs in

Mountain lions have a huge range, says Andy Blue with the Ramona Wildlife Center.

“They can cover 10 to 12 miles a day, and their range is actually about 100 square miles. So if they’re seeing cats fairly close to the urban areas, that’s probably a cat that is also on Camp Pendleton and Fallbrook and some of these other more open, wooded areas. But it is unusual to see them in an area with a lot of people and in neighborhoods, certainly,” Blue said.

Does it seem like more wildlife are heading into town lately? It might just be modern technology.

“One thing we’re seeing more of here with Project Wildlife is there’s quite a bit more wildlife being seen with the addition of a lot of people have Ring cameras and setups like that around their house. And so we’re seeing a lot more wildlife that we haven’t seen in the past, and they’ve probably been in these areas all along, and we just were never really were aware of it until you’re seeing it on your camera in the middle of the night,” Blue said.

Blue has a special warning for pet owners.

“First and foremost is if you don’t feed your pets outside your dogs or cats, that’s what attracts a lot of animals that some of the animals, like coyotes and mountain lions, prey on. So if you’re putting out dog and cat food overnight and a raccoon is coming around, mountain lions will prey on raccoons or coyotes or rabbits or squirrels. So everything from dog and cat food to compost piles to bird feeders to bird fountains, all these things that attract wildlife to your home. It’s nice to see the animals, but it’s not fair to them because you’re attracting them into an area where they may be predated,” Blue added.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.