Recent Burney & JP mountain lion & bobcat sightings have residents on edge

BURNEY — Several recent mountain lion and bobcat sightings in the Intermountain communities of Burney and neighboring Johnson Park, as well as the Big Bend, Montgomery Creek and Clark Creek areas, have area residents on edge and discussing what to do, and what not to do, in the event of a face to face encounter with one of Shasta County’s feline predators.


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According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials, the recent increase in sightings coincides with an overall spike in sightings throughout Shasta and neighboring counties.

Wildlife experts throughout the area say they have been receiving an unusually high number of reported sightings this fall and believe the rise in sightings is due in large part to a recent rise in deer population throughout the region.

Some recent sightings in the Intermountain area include two separate mountain lion sightings a week apart on Black Ranch Rd. between SR-299E and Vedder Rd., and at least two other mountain lions spotted on Fenders Ferry Rd. and Big Bend Rd. within the same week. Area bobcat sightings include one on Clark Creek Rd. in Burney and another near 2nd St. in Johnson Park.

All of those sightings happened in the late evening and early morning hours and none resulted in attacks or injuries to residents. However, several recent livestock and pet attacks have been reported, with some due to unknown but suspected feline predators.

Although in most cases mountain lions will retreat when confronted by humans, there have been sixteen verified attacks in California since 1890, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website. Six of those attacks proved fatal.

Despite the increase in recent sightings, wildlife experts say there are simple steps residents can take to protect themselves against potential face to face encounters.

Tips from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife include:

  • Acknowledge that you live in mountain lion country and make a commitment to educate yourself. Talk to your neighbors and work together.
  • Never feed deer or other wildlife; it is illegal to feed deer and other big game in California and it will attract mountain lions.
  • Deer-proof your landscaping by avoiding plants that deer like to eat. For tips, request A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage from CDFW offices.
  • Trim brush to reduce hiding places for mountain lions.
  • Don’t 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.

In the event of encountering a mountain lion or bobcat in the wild, you should:

  • Stay calm and stand your ground.
  • Maintain direct eye contact.
  • Raise your voice and speak firmly.
  • Pick up any children, but do so without bending down or turning your back on the animal.
  • Back away slowly.
  • Do not run. Running triggers a chase response in most feline predators, which could lead to an attack.
  • Raise your voice and speak firmly.
  • If the animal seems aggressive raise your arms to make yourself look larger and clap your hands.
  • If in the very unusual event that you are attacked by a wild animal, fight back with rocks, sticks, tools or any other items available.

For more information about mountain lion, bobcat, or other wild animal encounters, and how to report sightings, visit California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

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Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.

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