Residents of Pacifica, California–about 15 minutes outside San Fransisco–are used to seeing the occasional wild animal in their neighborhood. A nearby wooded area grants them visits from deer and other harmless creatures, but a few neighbors were in for a surprise when they caught a large mountain lion closely watching a group of kids. In a video posted to YouTube, we can see just how close the big cat came.
Timothy Kerrisk took the video after he spotted the mountain lion in his yard. Originally thinking it was a dog, he was shocked to see the dangerous predator in the middle of houses and with people nearby. He told local news station KRON 4,
“I thought it was somebody’s dog that had gotten into the yard and I was like, ‘Hey, get out of here!’ Then it turned and that’s when I was like, ‘Oh my God! It’s a mountain lion!'”
Following the mountain lion’s gaze, Kerrisk could see the animal was watching children across the street. He yelled to neighbors to get the kids inside.
Kerrisk then said the big cat jumped over his fence and hid under his truck until he got outside to chase it away.
While mountain lion sightings aren’t exactly rare in California, experts predict they might become more common as more wildfires burn. The predators are being forced to leave their normal hunting grounds. They have nowhere else to go besides toward communities like Pacifica.
A mountain lion researcher with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Justin Dellinger, told Newsweek that Kerrisk did the right thing by chasing off the cat. Dellinger observed that the mountain lion looked rather young, but it wasn’t showing outward signs of aggression. In his opinion, the mountain lion was being cautious in an unfamiliar area and was more curious than life-threatening.
Mountain lions are more likely to attack outdoor pets than they are people. This particular cat is suspected of killing a deer just outside the neighborhood and might have chased a neighbor’s cat.
Experts encourage people to always be wary in a mountain lion’s presence. An outright attack isn’t likely, but they can become unpredictable if they feel threatened or are desperate for a meal. Above all, mountain lions are wild animals that deserve respect.
Residents of Pacifica are keeping an eye out in case their visitor decides to return.