Mountain lions (also known as panthers, cougars or pumas) are native to much of California and are typically found in the foothills or mountains. 

Being surrounded by the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains means that on occasion, wildlife, including mountain lions, will find its way onto our campus. We encourage you to learn more about mountain lions and find out how you can stay safe.

Public safety escorts are available in the event you feel uncomfortable traveling alone through campus. Please call 805-437-8444 to request a public safety escort.

Living with Mountain Lions in Southern California

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Mountain Lion Facts

  • Solitary creatures, except when mothers are raising their young
  • Usually they try to avoid humans
  • Prey mainly on deer, sometimes on racoons or other rodents
  • They usually hunt alone at night
  • One of North America’s largest cats; tawny in color with black-tipped ears

Stay Safe in mountain lion country

  • Do not hike, bike or jog alone. Stay alert on trails.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active – dawn, dusk and at night.
  • Keep a close watch on small children.
  • Off-leash dogs on trails are at increased risk of becoming prey for a mountain lion.
  • Never approach a mountain lion. Give them an escape route.
  • DO NOT RUN. Running may trigger chase, catch and kill response. Stay calm. Do not turn your back. Face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms or opening your jacket if wearing one; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
  • Do not crouch or bend over. Squatting puts you in a vulnerable position of appearing much like four-legged prey.
  • Be vocal, but speak calmly and do not use high-pitched tones or screams. 
  • If a lion attacks, fight back. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, garden tools and even an ink pen or bare hands. Try to stay on your feet. If knocked down, try to protect your head and neck. If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.
  • Teach others how to behave during an encounter

Additional information about mountain lions in California is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

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