Santa Barbara, California, USA: a massive wildfire in late 2017 which affected the counties of Santa Barbara and Ventura, burning 281,893 acres, together with a series of mud flows which particularly affected areas north-west of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County has forced the mountain lion from those areas of its range into the urban environment of Santa Barbara where this iconic American wild cat is said to feed on feral and domestic cats as a substitute for deer.
Backyard mountain lion
Wandering the streets
These natural disasters have added to the existing tendency of mountain lies to come down from their habitat into urban areas.
“Mountain lions have always come down off and on into that urban interface into the city areas.”-Paul Collins, a curator of Vertebrate Zoology with the Museum of Natural History.
Collins goes on to say:
“A good part of their home range has been burned, they have to wander a lot more widely in order to look for food.”
Sightings of mountain lions were reported off lower Ontare Road near State Street earlier in the week. There have also been reports from Laguna Street, Elings Park and on Palomino in Mission Canyon.
These cats are following the deer down from the mountains and they can’t find enough of them and therefore they are going after feral cats and I presume sometimes stray, domestic cats.
It is said that feral cat numbers in the area have declined in and around the city areas. Mountain lions travel considerable distances and their home range varies from between 40 miles for females, and 55 miles for males.
It is believed that people are seeing the same mountain lion or perhaps one or two sub-adults who have left the natal home and are looking for their home range.
As more surveillance cameras are in place nowadays it is more likely that wandering mountain lions are going to be picked up on video than before.
“Capturing images of things like this coming right up to your front door sniffing around climbing over a fence into your backyard. They had no idea they had mountain lions coming around checking things out.”Collins
The lesson is that residents will have to be more careful on behalf of their cats and dogs. It seems that residents can’t assume that indoor/outdoor cats are going to be safe in Santa Barbara County. Mountain lions can climb fences easily and move between backyards without difficulty in search of a tasty morsel which in this instance might well be an outside domestic cat.
Source (my thanks): keyt.com.