Mountain lions are common in Lake County and a lion is sighted nearly every month. Last week, a farmer in Lower Lake reported that 27 lambs were killed by a mountain lion. The owner notified the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), who dispatched a representative to the farm. He told owners that mountain lions are fully protected and there was nothing he could do.
In a way, the DFW was correct, but not complete. While the law states that a lion cannot be relocated, it can be destroyed if it attacks livestock or a human. That particular lion is still on the farm and will no doubt attack more sheep. They also like to look for cats and dogs in backyards.
A mountain lion is extremely strong and has been known to take down an adult moose weighing in excess of 750 pounds. An adult lion can weigh up to 175 pounds and pack an extremely powerful bite. Sheep are one of his favorite victims.
Years ago, local farmers kept the lion population in check, but animal rights activists were able to push through laws that fully protected the lion.
Many people wonder why a lion kills 27 sheep and doesn’t eat them. The lion was more likely to kill the sheep because they were available. In the wild, the lion would likely have returned to feed on them.
With 2,000 to 4,000 lions, California has more mountain lions than any other state. A mountain lion kills a deer for food every week. The reason the DFW will not relocate a troublesome lion is that if relocated, it will fight with the resident lions. They also travel long distances. It’s not uncommon for a lion to travel 50 miles in a day.
A few years ago, a couple stayed in their Clear Lake home and left the patio door open. An adult mountain lion wandered into the house, the couple retreated to their bathroom and locked the door. The lion searched the house for almost an hour before retiring through the open door.
The woman whose 27 lambs were killed also contacted a federal trapper but was told there was nothing he could do.
Mountain lions are extremely shy animals and most people have never seen one. In all the years I’ve wandered the woods I’ve only seen four. A few years ago, my neighbor saw a large mountain lion running through her yard in pursuit of a squirrel. It chased the squirrel up a tree and grabbed it. The lion completely ignored the woman.
Last year, near Willits, a rancher killed a mountain lion who was hunting his cattle. He was arrested, jailed, and fined more than $1,000.
The big question is what to do when you own sheep or cattle and a mountain lion shows up? There are a few federal trappers who can help you. They can be reached through the local agricultural office in Lakeport or Ukiah.
Be especially careful when walking in the forest. If you spot a lion, don’t run away as this will agitate it and you may be attacked. If you are attacked, fight back. In fact, there is little you can do with modern lion protection laws these days.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/11/lion-kills-27-lambs-near-lower-lake/ Mountain lion kills 27 lambs at ranch in Northern California