This is mountain lion country, declared Park Ranger Patti Cole.
The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District is bringing in the Mountain Lion Foundation to educate Valley residents about the prospect of coming face-to-face with one of these wild animals.
Although they are most commonly found along the south perimeter of the Valley area, mountain lions will venture into more populated areas on occasion.
Cole, who works at the adjoining Sycamore Grove Regional and Veterans parks, said mountain lions are pretty scarce there but may wander in from time to time.
What people can expect to see at those parks, though, is bobcats — often mistaken for mountain lions. But Cole says theres some pretty big differences.
Bobcats — recognizable by their short tails — are about 2 to 3 feet in length and anywhere from 15 to 35 pounds. Mountain lions are about 6 to 8 feet in length, including the tail, and weigh from 80 to about 180 pounds.
Sycamore Grove has two families of bobcats, which get seen by visitors almost every day. But, in general, these wild cats dont pose much threat.
I am not aware of there being any problems in terms ofbobcats preying on people, Cole said.
She has even taken her dog walking in the park and encountered a bobcat without any problems. But Cole still recommends playing it safe.
Bobcats can defend themselves quite well, she said. They could do some serious damage to a pet.
If the rare occurrence of meeting a mountain lion happens to you, Cole says dont look intimidated. Standing on your toes, opening up a jacket to look wider and yelling can help keep lions at bay. If you have small children, try to pick them up without bending down, Cole recommended. And dont run — a mountain lion will outrun you.
For those interested in learning more about mountain lions and how they live, LARPD will hold Living with Lions from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday. A representative from the Mountain Lion Foundation will help people get a better understanding of the wild cats.
A $3 donation is suggested. The program is appropriate for ages 12 and older.
For more information, go online to http://www.larpd.dst.ca.us or http://www.mountainlion.org.
Staff Writer Lea Blevins can be reached at lblevins@angnewspa-