Wildlife biologist Zara McDonald, who works with the Bay Area Puma Project, tells the San Francisco Chronicle that recent footage of a cougar lurking around a backyard swimming pool before paddling across a nearby lake is “not all that unusual.”
At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, the mountain lion, which McDonald believes to be a juvenile male, was observed on the property of Valerie Strowski in Southern California.
Strowski told the Mercury News that after her husband first noticed the animal and roused her up to go have a look, she was able to shoot a video of it from her balcony.
It was possible that the mountain lion mistook one of her four children’s toy fish in the pool for prey, even in the dim light. Afterward, after about 15 minutes of wandering around the dock, it abruptly leapt into the lake with a splash.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department was phoned by Strowski, who had never before seen a mountain lion in her neighborhood. As Mercury News reported, she said officers arrived on the scene after it was already in the sea, around 300 yards from the shoreline.
According to an animal control sergeant at Mission Viejo Animal Services, “If there wasn’t a film of this animal swimming across the lake, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
There have been a number of calls from Orange County citizens since the video went viral, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department representative.
According to a statement released by Mission Viejo’s city government on Saturday night, the lion had been seen at the intersection of Marguerite Parkway and Lake Mission Viejo’s Alicia Parkway and had swum toward the Mallorca Condominium Community from there.
Michelle Claud-Clemente, director of Mission Viejo Animal Services, told SFGATE that her agency is currently working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and local researchers to try to locate the animal, which has been missing for some time.
Claud-Clemente believes that when the sheriffs arrived, they may have startled the cat, which prompted it to jump into the water. Despite the fact that mountain lions have been spotted in the region before, they don’t usually approach residential premises that close. I think they’ve scared it off sufficiently that it won’t show up again.
Even though they avoid water and do not like to get wet, mountain lions have flexible spines that allow them to maneuver around barriers and quickly change directions when moving through their diminishing habitats in search of prey, according to McDonald’s research.
Mountain lions have the biggest range of any terrestrial mammal in our hemisphere if you look at it this way.” That they can swim, which they do quite well, should not be a surprise,” added McDonald. “Fish will do. Seals, sea lion pups, otters, and a variety of other sea creatures will be taken. They’re quite flexible.”
As mountain lions’ habitats have become “severely fragmented” in California, McDonald says she’s increasingly seeing them enter human areas. Mountain lions are forced to shift into areas where they are rarely observed because of the construction of fences, highways, dams, and other constructions designed for human use.
It’s crucial for mountain lions, McDonald said, to have trees as a source of cover.”They have a tendency to keep their activities under wraps. During their attacks, they are completely undetected by their prey. Human-animal contact occurs when habitats are fragmented, making it more difficult for wildlife to move through.
When it comes to mountain lions crossing lakes and waterways, there is “a lot” documented occurrences, according to McDonald, the director of the Bay Area Puma Project.
She also mentioned that deer are more active in residential areas, which means that mountain lions will follow suit. Mountain lions are rarely seen wandering near pools, but this one may have been drawn to the water if it spotted prey (or in this case, a pool toy that resembled prey).
Anecdotally, images showing mountain lions swimming in lakes in Washington, Canada, and California have been sent to McDonald. The claim came from a father and son boating on Shasta Lake when they saw two mountain lions swimming very next to them, around three or four years ago.
“It was a new experience for them,” said McDonald. When they realized what had happened, they were shocked but permitted them to continue on their way.
Mountain lion sightings may appear to have increased during the epidemic, but McDonald thinks that’s a matter of discussion.
We now have the ability to see them in the middle of the night, which wasn’t previously possible thanks to the likes of Ring cameras and Nest security cameras, McDonald said.
It’s excellent and fascinating that individuals are installing these cameras around their homes, but it gives the impression that there are more mountain lions than there actually are.
According to research from the Bay Area Puma Project, their populations are decreasing in the Bay Area and other parts of California.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is reviewing a petition to label mountain lions as threatened or endangered, according to McDonald, who noted that their low genetic diversity is displaying “troubling signals,” notably in the Santa Ana region where this mountain lion was spotted.
It’s time to pay attention to the lions in these places, she said.
Those who live in locations where mountain lions roam are urged by McDonald’s to treat the animals with respect. McDonald added that while people could be led by fear if they see one and assume that it is coming after them, McDonald said that couldn’t be further from reality.
A young male lion seeking his own territory, or a mother searching for a place to rear her offspring, could be the culprit in many cases.
When the animal was spotted in Mission Viejo, “I’d say this mountain lion is gone,” she remarked. “It’s highly unlikely that they’ll see him again. In those human-dominated environments, he probably didn’t have a lot of fun.”
In addition, she found the video of the mountain lion’s antics “very cool” to watch.
McDonald stated, “It wasn’t unusual in the least. Because it is so rare, “I’m not sure how the couple responded, but I hope they regarded it as a treat.”