You may have seen it on reddit, or possibly in the San Antonio newspaper – Mountain Lion sighted in suburb. In fact every year there seems to be a headline from somewhere in the state spotting one of the elusive big cats. Last year a sighting was reported in a different part of San Antonio, the year before that – one in Houston. So how often do humans really encounter these animals? Jessica Alderson is an Urban Biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
“ Really the only time that we see an increase in mountain lion sightings or calls would be when there is a story in the media,” Alderson says. “I just think we get those increased calls someone whenever we have a story hit the news and people get concerned and want to call in and tells us what they’ve seen – or think they’ve seen.”
Alderson has a good reason to be skeptical. In the last 35 years there have only been four mountain lion attacks on people in Texas. Alderson says that a lot of the fear of wild animals in urban communities is unfounded.
“One of the biggest concerns that people have when they call in, when they think they’ve seen a mountain lion, or any other urban type predator, would be that the animal is going to attack a person, or a child or an animal,” she says. “But the reality is that you are more likely to get bitten by a domesticated animal than you would be to be bitten by a wild animal.”
But what if you do happen to encounter one of those rare mountain lions out in the wild? What should you do? David Bassi is a consultant with Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in San Antonio.
“These guys if you see one, that’s all you’re going to see – he’s going to be gone,” Bassi says. “Nothing to be afraid or worried about. Most of these guys are totally reclusive and you just don’t ever see them. I mean if you do see them, and they see you first, you won’t see them!”
So the next time you think you’ve spotted that big mountain lion – make sure it’s not your neighbor’s dog.