Mountain Lion Sightings Shut Down San Jose Park Hiking Trials

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Two popular hiking trails in San Jose’s Alum Rock Park were shut down Thursday after several reports of a mountain lion being sighted nearby, park officials said.

“We’ve had recurring mountain lion sightings along the South Rim and One Way Road trails over the last 5 to 7 days,” Park Ranger Pam Helmke told KPIX 5. “Mountain lions are residents of Alum Rock Park so it (sightings) is not uncommon. But this one has been seen multiple times by multiple people during all hours of the day.”

Among the sightings Thursday was one captured on video by a KPIX 5 cameraman.

Helmke said after talking with officials from the state fish and game department it was decided to give the lion “a little space.”

So the two trails will be closed at least for 48 hours.

“We feel he’ll move up canyon where they are usually found,” she said.

Helmke said officials were trying to determine what is attracting the lion to the area near the trails.

“Does he have a food cache in the area?” she said of the reasons the lion could be in the area. “The worse case scenario would be that he is becoming habituated to the human presence where this animal may not have the normal fear of humans…If it is a food cache he will feed on it for a few days and then move on.”

The rangers said that anyone encountering a mountain lion, should keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Do not approach a mountain lion, it may feel cornered if you approach it.
  • Do not remain in the area.
  • Stand tall, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms or throwing objects.
  • Pick up small children, without bending over.
  • Back away slowly, giving the lion an opportunity to escape.
  • Do not turn your back or run away, which might trigger a chase response.
  • Fight back, if attacked.

Mountain lions, also known as pumas or cougars, are a protected species in California. These large, powerful predators play an important role in the ecosystem.

Their primary food source is deer, but they can also prey on smaller animals like raccoons, rabbits, and feral pig. More than half of California, including most of undeveloped Santa Clara County, is prime mountain lion habitat.

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