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Close encounter reminds us of dangers on trail

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Ways to keep safe in mountain lion territory
The following are tips listed on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website:
• Do not hike, bike, or jog alone.
• Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active — dawn, dusk, and at night.
• Keep a close watch on small children.
• Do not approach a mountain lion.
• If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
• If attacked, fight back.
• If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.

Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html
 

The trails that surround Auburn are beautiful, but can be dangerous.
Nature gave one hiker a scary reminder of that recently when a mountain lion was reported stalking a man on a Colfax-area trail for an hour and a half.
Luckily the man was rescued, but his encounter with wild animals on our scenic trails drives home the importance of preparation and safety.
It turns out one of the best tools the hiker had on him that day was a cell phone. The hiker was on Stevens Trail on a Saturday evening when he noticed a mountain lion.
The lion circled him and the hiker called 911 as the animal was 25 feet away from him. Luckily, a call from Placer County Sheriff’s Office dispatch led to a California Highway Patrol helicopter flying to the scene. Using a spotlight, responders were able to scare away the mountain lion and guide the hiker to a rescue group.
The hiker would later tell rescuers that he had used a whistle and flashlight and tried to make himself appear big, as per guidelines of what to do in that situation. However, the aggressive cougar didn’t back down.
A day later, a fish and wildlife warden was at the trail posting warnings when he found himself 10 feet away from the mountain lion, which was crouched in an attack position. The warden shot and killed the cat.
This close and frightening encounter with nature underscores just how important it is to be prepared when out on the trails. Making yourself appear big and making noise are tips to follow, but it wasn’t what helped the hiker in the end.
Trail users should remember to pack a cell phone and avoid trails during peak times when mountain lions are out – dawn, dusk and at night. Arming yourself with noisemakers, such as whistles, flashlights and phones, is another good step.
Most of all it’s vital for all trail users to be vigilant and aware that you’re walking into Mother Nature’s backyard. Enjoy the beauty, but beware the danger.