Hikers in California were followed closely by a mother mountain lion protecting her kittens.
Mike Smith is a regular hiker at the Mission Trails Regional Park near San Diego, California. A recent hike that left them out after dark turned into a potentially deadly situation as a mountain lion began to stalk them along the trail.
On the evening of Thursday, July 9, Smith and a friend were heading back down the a trail to where their car was parked. They stopped as the headlamps they were wearing reflected a set of eyes peering at them from a bush.
“We noticed eyes in the bushes off to the right,” Smith told ABC 10 News. “We then heard, if you have ever had kittens, a mewing but loud.”
Hoping to put some distance between them and the watchful mountain lion mother the hikers started walking up the trail faster.
Almost to the main road, where the trail ended, they noticed the eyes ahead of them once again. Only this time, the owner showed herself. What they were hoping to be one of the smaller cougars of the area was not.
“A full-blown mountain lion, not a bobcat, walks out of the bushes and walks across the road not even thirty feet in front of us,” recounted Smith.
He nervously pulled out his pepper spray when the mountain lion climbed onto some high ground to their left. They slowly walked backwards never taking their eyes off the spot where she was until they reached a main road and safely back to their vehicle.
Smith believes the mountain lion was just watching them to make sure they didn’t try to harm her kittens that must have been hidden close to the trail. He is just happy they made it through the encounter safely.
If you are hiking in areas where big cats may be, here are a few tips to deal with mountain lions:
1. Do not run, crouch, bend over, or turn your back to a mountain lion at any time.
2. Try to make yourself look as large as possible. Yell loudly at it while calmly waving your arms around slowly.
3. Slowly back away from the mountain lion while never taking your eyes off of it.
4. If attacked, fight back as hard as you can while protecting your face and neck.
5. Carry pepper spray or mace with you to attempt to spray the animal if it gets too close.