Through word of mouth and official text alert, it seems like mountain lions are more prevalent than usual in and around Pescadero.
At around 4:30 a.m. on March 6, a lion was blamed for killing livestock in a resident’s backyard. The predator reportedly approached a back door and was unintimidated by two large pit bulls that confronted the unwelcome visitor.
Two days later, a mountain lion was spotted in a tree off of Dearborn Park Road.
On March 11, a San Mateo County alert was issued to notify area residents that a mountain lion appeared to have attacked a small pet. The attack wasn’t confirmed but a resident in the 5000 block of Pescadero Creek Road reported letting a pet outside for a short period at around 9 p.m. the night before, heard a “yelp” and never saw the pet again.
These reports represent only a small sampling of mountain lion-related incidents that residents say seemed to have picked up since 2015.
“A lot of the lions are coming up on people’s houses and looking inside,” said Pescadero resident and Pescadero Municipal Advisory Councilmember Ken Pesso. “I think that’s a manifestation (of the fact) that their food supply is going away.”
Pesso himself has been affected by the mountain lions. In April 2017, Pesso’s 15-pound Portuguese Podengo dog was snatched off the bed where his wife and daughter were sleeping.The incident occurred around 3 that morning. The big cat managed to enter the home through a pair of French doors that had been left ajar to allow the dog easy access to the outdoors.
“We’re talking about a species that is protected (with) no known predator,” Pesso said.
The longtime Pescadero resident said that neighbors are constantly hearing about cats disappearing and livestock being taken. The reports are often mentioned on local social media and signs tacked up at the post office.
“It’s obvious something’s going on,” Pesso said.
Fellow Pescadero resident Dante Silvestri has had roughly seven to 10 sheep and cattle taken from him over the last few years ands says he is frustrated with the county Agricultural Commission and the California Fish and Wildlife for not having a wildlife management system that might bring the population back to a more managable level.
Silvestri is not interested in killing the lions, necessarily. What he would like to see is more tracking of the animals, better reporting of losses and keeping the predators away from people.
“Let’s make those lions afraid of people again,” Dante said.
In spite of what feels like more reports of late, the California Fish and Wildlife says that it doesn’t believe there has been an increase in the lions.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Peter Tira noted that the agency is currently undergoing a statewide study to get a better sense of the population. Utilizing tracking collars and trail cameras, the agency hopes to learn more about this elusive animal now that better technology is available.
Tira suggested that there are simply more people in mountain lion territory these days.
“When you live in those beautiful places, the mountain lions are part of the environment,” said Tira. “You’ve got to be aware of that and not present opportunities for them to prey on pets.”