The terms wildlife and Beverly Hills together conjure up images of bad boy rappers going off the hook at L ‘Ermitage, not mountain lions prowling Sunset Boulevard.
That’s why the warning signs posted at Coldwater Canyon Park, featuring a photo of a well-fed, tawny Felis concolor perched on a snowy outcropping, caught my attention. First of all, since records were first kept in 1921, snow has only fallen on Los Angeles ten times – and not a single instance since 1962. Second of all, the sign declared the animal as “aggressive” and if seen, one should dial 9-1-1.
Dialing for help is preferable over bolting when it comes to mountain lions. They can mistake a fleeing person as a prey animal and the last thing I want to do is confuse a cougar into thinking that I am a deer.
Over the years, especially during drought, BH residents have seen their fair share of raccoons, coyotes and possums. None of these critters licks its chops at the sight of humans. Neither do mountain lions particularly, so what’s changed? Should I be worried?
According to LA Animal Services, mountain lions are thriving in California. There are anywhere from 100s to 10,000 of them. No, that was not a type-o. At the moment, that’s as precise as authorities can get. Maybe off-road bikers, hikers and construction workers who increasingly invade wildlife habitats are the cause for the crabby cougar sightings.
Maybe. Maybe not. Californians passed Prop 117 in 1990, which created a Habitat Conservation Fund and guaranteed it funding of $30 million a year for 30 years in order to “acquire, enhance, or restore” specified types of lands for wildlife or open space. In particular, mountain lions are a protected species and no one can kill them “unless for the protection of life, livestock or other property.”
Personally, I’m optimistic the fussy feline will head back to that snowy outcropping from the warning photo. If not, hopefully my American Bulldog can scare it off with a loud bark.
If you do happen to see an up to eight-foot long mountain lion, alert wildlife authorities at 888-452-7381. In the meantime, I’ve got a call into Wildlife Officer Gregory Randall to find out just how likely it is that Beverly Hills residents might end up tangling with a mountain lion. Check for more mountain lion updates at BH Mom on Facebook.