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Hikers' encounter with mountain lions prompt temporary park closure

February 4, 2010 |  5:34 pm

A mountain lion on a ledge.

Two brothers hiking in Pescadero Creek Park in San Mateo County had a close encounter of the threatening kind when they came face to face with two aggressive mountain lions, prompting the temporary closure of the park.

The California Department of Fish and Game reports that the men were hiking in the park late Sunday afternoon when one of them was approached by a mountain lion showing aggressive behavior. The man picked up a large stick and started swinging it at the lion while shouting. His brother, who was nearby and heard the shouting, came to his aid and then noticed a second lion approaching.

The mountain lions remained outside the range of the swinging stick, but just a few feet away. Together, the men eventually scared off both animals.

The hikers told DFG wardens that they were confronted for an estimated two to four minutes, which is highly unusual for mountain lions. Thus, the animals were deemed a threat to public safety and the park was closed.

On Monday, with the aid of a professional mountain lion tracker and trained hounds, wardens began their efforts to locate and kill the lions.

By Tuesday afternoon, investigators were confident that the cougars had left the park boundaries, at which point the search was called off, because widening the range at that point may have increased the chance that the wrong mountain lion would be killed.

When asked what might have been the cause of the animals aggressive behavior, DFG warden Patrick Foy told Outposts that he wasn't certain.

"I walked to the exact location where the encounter took place," Foy said. "While I found no deer carcass or evidence of a cache, I did come across a deer skull, so the area may have been heavily frequented by the animals in the past."

"The park was reopened today," added Foy. "There have been no other encounters with the cats, but now everyone is calling in seeing mountain lions."

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A mountain lion on a ledge. Credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

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