Help Mountain Lions by Keeping Your Pets and Livestock Safe
Living away from the crowded cities means having your own piece of land and plenty of room for children and pets to play. However, it also means wildlife is just outside your backdoor.
Birds and squirrels may be amusing visitors, but inviting any form of wildlife often means you are opening the door for all kinds of critters.
The best thing to do is to keep a barrier between you and the wildlife – it benefits everyone! By doing so, you will save your pets and livestock from becoming dinner and help keep out of trouble thereby ensuring they will not be killed for doing what comes natural to them.
Put wildlife at a safe distance and make sure your furry loved ones are kept close and protected by following these four simple steps.
Step 1. Bring Your Pets Indoors
Keeping your animals inside helps prevent diseases and also protects them from mountain lions, but we understand this is not always possible.
And besides, isn’t part of the reason you are living away from the city is so you and your animals can have plenty of open space and not be cooped up all day?
While your pets are safer indoors (and we suggest you keep them inside whenever possible or if there has been a recent lion sighting), they are typically not at great risk from mountain lions in your yard during the day.
Lions are usually most active at night. You will increase your pets’ safety and keep them happy by simply bringing them indoors between dusk and dawn, as well as accompanying them on late night bathroom outings.
If having your animals sleep inside the house is not possible… for example you have large dogs, a herd of sheep, or a goat that just snores too loudly, then secure them for the night in a fully enclosed structure like a shed, barn, or one of MLF’s lion-proof small livestock enclosures. For larger ranching operations where this is not an option, please see Step 3 for tips on keeping free range animals safe from predators.
Step 2. Keep Mountain Lions Out of Your Yard
Just because there are lions in the area does not mean one is living in your backyard. A lion’s territory can easily encompass 20 square miles and they spend most of their time traveling throughout their territory.
Therefore, an easy way to keep lions away is to be sure you are not attracting their natural prey – deer – to your home or garden.
The California Department of Fish and Game’s A Gardener’s Guide to Preventing Deer Damage has tips on which plants to grow and which ones to remove. Brush in general is not only a fire hazard, but it can also provide comfortable hiding places for wild animals. So clear bushes from around your home… especially if they are the type deer like to eat, and install proper fencing to keep wildlife out and protect your garden.
Raccoons and feral cats are also common lion food, so do what you can to avoid attracting them. Store your pet food in a secure enclosure and whenever possible feed your animals indoors.
Garbage cans also provide a magnificent party buffet for wild animals… and it may not be long before a lion decides to crash the party and eat the guests. Close the buffet by securing your garbage cans.
Step 3. Safeguard Livestock
Raising livestock is often a messy business. Just like people can’t help themselves from buying that great smelling popcorn at the movie theater, mountain lions may be tempted to come into your yard for a quick and tasty meal should they catch a whiff of one.
The smell of blood from sick, injured, dead, or newborn animals will attract mountain lions. Clean up the source and place vulnerable animals within a secure enclosure. See our animal husbandry page for more details on how to protect breeding and injured animals.
If the size of your ranching operation does not permit you to follow the previous steps, or if you have implemented them and are still having conflicts, consider researching and investing in some of these additional predator aversion techniques.
If a covered livestock pen is not an option, you may need to build a tall fence. Mountain lions have been known to jump 15 feet vertically. Trained livestock-specific guard dogs are also said to scare off mountain lions.
Timed or motion sensor alarms with flashing lights, loud noises and sprinklers may work on mountain lions, and can also provide an added bonus of scaring other pesky neighbors who show up uninvited.
Step 4. Now Spread the Word
After following these simple steps, please let your neighbors know the value of taking the same precautions. A neighbor’s actions can still attract mountain lions into the area and increase everyone’s chances for a conflict.
We’ve created a simple brochure that you can photocopy and distribute in your neighborhood. once people understand that it’s much easier — and far better — to change human behavior than the behavior of wildlife, they’ll usually come around.
And don’t forget to let people know to come to this website to learn about lions. While you may understand how to live peacefully with the local wildlife, your neighbors may not. Their appeal to a government agency may result in the death of a mountain lion.
Often neighbors call in the authorities thinking that they are simply making a report, and without understanding the likely consequences. Once a call is made, it’s often a death warrant for the wild animal.
Please think your actions all the way through and do what is best for your community. Help your neighbors by referring them to our website or by printing and distributing some of the brochures listed below. Invite your local 4H and FFA clubs to contact MLF for help or tips for protecting their animals.