mountain lion

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

Mountain Lion Activity at Rancho San Antonio

Mountain lions have been observed in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.

If you encounter a mountain lion, take these safety precautions

  • Keep children and pets close.
  • Do not approach the lion.
  • Do not turn your back on the lion.
  • Do not crouch down or bend over.
  • Back away slowly while paying attention to how the lion is reacting to your movements. If you are getting farther away from their young the lion may relax or walk away.
  • Leave the area and inform other preserve visitors of the potential danger.
  • Fight back if attacked.
  • Report aggressive sightings immediately to District Ranger Dispatch (650)-968-4411

Mountain Lion Observations

Map is illustrative to demonstrate ongoing mountain lion presence across the Preserve in a given year, it is not intended for analytical purposes.


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 turn your back or run away, which might trigger a chase response.
  • 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
  • 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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