Officials say off duty San Marcos police officers have made two mountain lion sightings in the past month near Purgatory Park.
Both sightings were at dusk which experts say is a common time for the large cats to be moving and beginning to hunt.
Officials believe the mountain lion is a juvenile that may be using drainage areas and culverts to hunt and cross roads. Based on graffiti in and around some of the culverts, the areas are also be frequented by people which could result in a dangerous encounter.
If you simply see a mountain lion, please report it to the City of San Marcos Animal Shelter at 512-805-2655. The state of Texas tracks all sightings for information and wildlife research purposes.
If you have an emergency where there is immediate danger from a mountain lion, please call 911.
Officials say many people confuse the more common bobcat and even house cats for mountain lions, however if you think you see a mountain lion follow the safety precautions below and then report the incident.
Mountain lions usually avoid being around humans and will leave an area where there is human activity. They are however, drawn to pets and may see them as prey.
In a news release, Neighborhood Services Director Jeff Caldwell says that mountain lions are an important part of the Central Texas ecosystem. "While mountain lions try to avoid people whenever possible, it's important to be aware of safety measures you cna take if you encounter one."
Residents are urged to stay out of drainage areas and culverts and follow safety tips if a mountain lion is encountered.
If you encounter a mountain lion, remember to convince it that you are not prey and that you may be dangerous. Follow these safety tips:
- Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so that they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
- Do not crouch down or bend over. A human standing up is just not the right shape for a lion's prey. Conversely, a person squatting or bending over resembles a four-legged prey animal. In mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to the animal.
- Fight back if attacked. A hiker in southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
- Secure your pets. Don’t let your pets run loose, which is already prohibited by City Ordinance. Keep them inside or on your property.
For more information you can go here (pdf).