Residents in a Riverside County neighborhood are being extra careful when taking their pets outdoors after spotting a mountain lion prowling around the area in the dark of night.
Valerie Chapman said she’s seen plenty of rabbits and coyotes around her Lake Elsinore home, but a mountain lion captured on her home’s surveillance cameras was something of a surprise.
“I was shocked. I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s really a mountain lion roaming our streets in front of our house,’” she explained. “It was shocking, but kind of exciting but scary at the same time.”
The large cat was spotted on Gateway Drive and McVicker Canyon Park Drive Thursday night just before 9 p.m.
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It was the motion sensor on Chapman’s cameras that alerted her to the prowling mountain lion.
“It went up in between my car and my husband’s black truck and then it walked across my front door,” she told KTLA’s Shelby Nelson.
Joe Price thought he saw the mountain lion earlier in the day. It wasn’t until later in the day when he saw a post about the big cat on social media that he realized his eyes had not been fooling him.
“In fact, I stopped, and it crossed the street and it saw me and it turned back around and went back up,” he said.
On one side of the neighborhood sits Lake Elsinore and on the other side homes are butted up against the foothills where plenty of wildlife lives. However, longtime residents say seeing a mountain lion is relatively rare.
“Being back against this national forest, I would think that we would see a lot more of it, but this is the first big cat that I’ve ever seen while living here and I’ve lived in California my entire life,” Lake Elsinore Resident Jessica Noland said.
Knowing that such a dangerous predator has been walking the neighborhood streets has put some residents on edge and driven home the fact that paying attention to your surroundings, especially living so close to wildlife, is very important.
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“We let our dogs out late at night, just to go to the bathroom before bedtime, but when you live up against the hills, you just have to be careful of anything that could be out there,” another resident said.
Experts suggest that if you encounter a mountain lion, it’s important to remember these tips:
Do not run, which trigger the animal’s predatory instincts to chase
Pick up any small children or pets
Do not turn your back on the animal, but look at its feet and avoid staring at it in the eyes
Raise your arms over your head to appear larger if the animal is acting aggressive
Make noise by yelling
Never approach the cougar
If there are cubs, be extremely careful not to get between them and the mountain lion