Cheryl Gray

Ask The Naturalist: Why Would A Mountain Lion Attack That Child?

September 13, 2014

Normally when there is a mountain lion incident and direct human contact, there are several months of abnormally high sightings reports, suggesting that the human response to extremely rare predator aggression is overblown attention and fear. The recent incident involving a 6 year old boy is no exception. A healthy response to this incident, if you enjoy recreating on local trails that also happen to be natural habitat for multiple wildlife species, is to really take the time to educate yourself and your family about the very real risks of hiking in a region where there are noxious snakes and spiders, as well as coyotes, bobcats, deer and yes, mountain lions.
The lion that was killed as a result of the incident last week was a 2-ish year old male, likely a disperser, and not obviously sick or unhealthy.

Read the Bay Nature piece for more.

CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Lab Confirms Identify of Cupertino Mountain Lion

September 12, 2014

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed forensics testing of the mountain lion killed by wildlife officials in Cupertino on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Test results from the department’s Wildlife Forensics Lab confirmed this was the same lion that attacked a six-year-old boy on Sunday, Sept. 7. The animal also tested negative for rabies through the UC Davis California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory. Read full report.

Live traps set for mountain lion that attacked boy

September 9, 2014

Wildlife crews in Northern California added an extra live trap Tuesday in their ongoing search to catch a mountain lion that attacked a 6-year-old boy. Biologists set a fourth live trap with roadkill carcasses as bait to go along with three others set Monday to help increase the chances of capturing the cougar, said California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Kirsten Macintyre. Read full report.

Breaking News Statement - Mountain Lion Attack in Cupertino

September 7, 2014

From the Bay Area Puma Project and Felidae Conservation Fund: Earlier today at approximately 1 pm, a mountain lion ostensibly attempted to drag a 6-year old boy off a trail in Cupertino, CA on Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. The boy sustained moderate injuries and was taken to the hospital. As we await more detail on the situation, and CDFW searches for the mountain lion, it is important to acknowledge this incident and the remote likelihood of this happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, where mountain lions reside. This is an extremely unfortunate event and the family of the child who was attacked is in our thoughts.

It is exceptionally rare for a Mountain lion to attack a human. A healthy mountain lion does not ordinarily stalk a human being. Mountain lions have a stable prey base in the region, and are typically uninterested in, and even afraid of, humans. They usually go out of their way to avoid humans.

When we outline safety protocol in mountain lion habitat we emphasize that children are at greater risk because of their smaller stature. Young children should remain close to their parents or escort when hiking, and they should not be left behind a group, or too far ahead.

Humans are not normal lion prey, so a young sub-adult lion still dependent on its mother, or a sick, or weakened and elderly lion that has more difficulty taking down deer, or other normal prey can become opportunistic and see a young child as prey.

Please stay tuned for more details on this story and check back with us for updates and clarifications.

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?

September 2014

Battles are where the fun is,” said E.O. Wilson, the great evolutionary biologist, “and where the most rapid advances are made.” We were sitting in oversized rocking chairs in a northwest Florida guest cottage with two deep porches and half-gallons of butter-pecan ice cream in the freezer, a Wilson favorite. He’d invited me here to look at what he considers a new approach to conservation, a new ecological Grail that, naturally, won’t happen without a fight. Read full report.