mountain lion

Background | If you encounter a lion | Stay Safe | Identification

Mountain Lion Activity at Rancho San Antonio

Two juvenile mountain lions were recently seen consuming a deer carcass near Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. While this is normal behavior for lions, where there are juveniles there will often be a mother lion close by. Please be aware that mountain lions can be protective of their young and may not retreat from humans if they feel their offspring are in danger.

Midpen Biologists believe that one or more mountain lions live within and around Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve. Sightings have been reported at ALL hours of the day, and the lion is showing signs of becoming acclimated to humans. If you encounter a lion it is not safe to stick around to take a few photos.

Mountain Lion Observations


Mountain lions, also known as “pumas” and “cougars” are large powerful predators that have an important role in the ecosystem. Their primary food source is deer, but they can also prey on smaller animals like raccoons, rabbits, domestic pets and livestock. More than half of California, including most of undeveloped San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, is prime mountain lion habitat. Mountain lions are a specially protected species in California.

Download Mountain Lion Fact Sheet

If you encounter a mountain lion

  • 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.
    -If a human is attacked by a mountain lion, call 911.

    -If you have a face-to-face encounter with a mountain lion, contact a ranger or call the District office at (650) 691-1200 during regular business hours. On weekends or after 5:00 PM on weekdays, call dispatch at (650) 903-6395.

Mountain lions can leap over 30 feet in a single bound (about the width of the average residential street), and can reach speeds of 50 mile per hour.

Stay safe in mountain lion country

  • Stay Alert when visiting a Preserve.
  • Do not hike, bike or jog alone.
  • Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active – dawn, dusk, and at night.
  • Keep a close watch on small children.
  • Do not wear headphones.


The mountain lion has a small head and small rounded ears. It has a very long tail that is about 2/3rds the length of its body.

  • Color: Generally tan, but can range from gray to brown, with a whitish underside. The ears and tail are tipped with black. Cubs have camouflage spots that fade as they mature.
  • Size: Adult males can reach 8 feet in length from nose to tail; and weigh 130-150 lbs.  Adult females can reach up to 7 feet in length and weigh 65-90 lbs.
  • Tracks: Unlike a dog, mountain lions don’t leave a nail mark and their pads are shaped like an “M”.
  • Behavior: Adult pumas are solitary and territorial animals. Males can have territories up to 100 square miles and females’ territories can range up to 60 square miles. They are most active between dusk and dawn, and generally avoid contact with humans, but have been known to stand their ground.

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