Parts of Rancho San Antonio closed due to mountain lions | August 30, 2019 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - August 30, 2019

Parts of Rancho San Antonio closed due to mountain lions

by Nisha Malley

Most trails at Rancho San Antonio remain temporarily closed due to mountain lion activity within the area.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District officials made the decision to close the preserve entirely on Friday, Aug. 23, after visitors reported frequent and repeated sightings of a mountain lion mother and three adolescent cubs.

As of Wednesday, Aug. 28, 8 miles of the preserve had reopened, including the area between Mora Trail, Lower Meadow and Coyote Trails. Visitors can also access Deer Hollow Farm.

The mountain lion family is believed to be living in or near the preserve, according to Leigh Ann Gessner, public affairs specialist with Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD).

Located conveniently close to urban areas, Rancho San Antonio is the Peninsula's most visited open space preserve.

MROSD closed certain trails on Saturday, Aug. 17, before deciding to close the preserve entirely last week.

More unusual than the recurrence of the sightings, Gessner said, was the lions' apparent lack of fear toward humans.

"Because these mountain lions are frequenting an area of open space, they're becoming habituated with people," Gessner told the Voice on Friday. "In the long run it is much safer ... for the lions to have a healthy fear of people. That allows lions to coexist with people in the preserve."

MROSD and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are working together to monitor the situation. Gessner said that Fish and Wildlife is attempting to implement humane deterrents to draw the lions away from the preserve and "instill fear" of humans into the animals.

Fish and Wildlife officials, along with local biologists, have placed a few deer carcasses in the preserve to lure the lions away. If the team can succeed in drawing the lions to the carcasses, Gessner said, they will use tools to emit loud noises to create a "healthy fear" of humans.

According to Gessner, the situation at Rancho San Antonio points to an ongoing regional challenge for wildlife that struggles to coexist with people. Mountain lions, in particular, require large territories and have gradually seen that space overtaken by highways and urban areas.

"(Wildlife) sometimes get pushed out to the edge where open space and the urban areas meet," Gessner said. "Part of why protecting open space is so important is to preserve the habitat of wildlife."

Gessner said she could not speculate as to when the trail closures would be lifted. Updates can be found on the district's website, openspace.org/visit-a-preserve/trail-conditions.

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