SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - A homeowner on Samantha Drive in Santa Ynez had an encounter he'll never forget.
He didn't want to appear on camera but says last week, he went outside to put something in his car when he saw a three foot long tail sticking out from under one of his trucks.
For three hours he says a mountain lion stayed underneath the vehicle until a member of Fish and Wildlife spooked it and the large cat ran away. This is the first time he's had an interaction with a mountain lion in the 13 years he's been at this property.
While the man believes this is all a part of living in Santa Ynez, other neighbors feel differently.
"I have neighhbors that have grandchildren and small dogs - I have dogs, so you know having a concern that there's a lot of prey available is kind of nerve wracking," says neighbor Elizabeth Kavaloski who lives up the street.
She's worried that the lion is still out there, telling us: "As you can see from everybody's landscaping there are plenty of hiding areas for this lion to lay and wait."
California Fish and Wildlife says however the chances of a mountain lion attack are pretty rare. In fact this is their only confirmed sighting in a residential area in Santa Barbara County so far this year.
"Well you never really know what could happen, what's going on in the mind of a lion. Typically they're solitary creatures and they want to be by themselves," explains Lt. Jamie Dostal from CA Fish and Wildlife.
Kavaloski says her neighborhood is taking precautions just in case. "If everybody does what they should be keeping children and small animals inside, then we reduce the prey for the predator."
If you do venture into mountain lion territory, Fish and Wildlife says to keep your phone close by. "Be ready to call 911 if you do see one," Dostal says.
ORIGINAL POST: A mountain lion was spotted in a residential neighborhood in Santa Ynez Thursday morning.
According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, at around 7:30 a.m. a 100-pound mountain lion was discovered laying underneath a pickup truck in a driveway on the 3100 block of Samantha Drive.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies and California Fish and Wildlife agents responded to the home but the animal left before any relocation efforts were made.
Another mountain lion sighting was reported in the same area later that night and officials believe it was the same mountain lion from the earlier incident.
Due to an uptick in mountain lion sightings in the Santa Ynez Valley, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has released a list of tips for residents in the area to avoid conflicts with wild animals.
- Don’t feed deer; it is illegal in California and it will attract mountain lions.
- Deer-proof your landscaping by avoiding plants that deer like to eat.
- Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
- Do not leave small children or pets outside unattended.
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
- Provide sturdy, covered shelters for sheep, goats and other vulnerable animals.
- Don’t allow pets outside when mountain lions are most active—dawn, dusk, and at night.
- Bring pet food inside to avoid attracting raccoons, opossums and other potential mountain lion prey.
- Pets, livestock and even people are potential prey to a mountain lion. Although mountain lions prefer deer, they may turn to alternate food sources if they are available and that is when conflicts may occur.
- If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
- If attacked, fight back.
- If you see a mountain lion in a residential neighborhood, immediately call 911
For more information, visit the California state website's mountain lion information page.