City reacts to lion activity

Jackson Bell

State and local officials, prompted by a mountain lion sighting in

the Verdugo Mountains last month, are warning hikers and cyclists to

be more aware of their surroundings.

There has been a threefold increase in reported sightings around

the state since two bicyclists were attacked by a mountain lion in

Orange County on Jan. 8, officials from the state Department of Fish

and Game said.

"There have been more reports because awareness is sky high,"

department spokesman Steve Martarano said. "Because of the sightings,

people are understandably edgy. But that doesn't mean there are more

lions out there."

Since 1890, six people have been killed by moun- tain lions,

Martarano said.

Local officials are asking people to report mountain lion activity

in the Verdugo Mountains, where a bicyclist spotted a mountain lion

north of Stough Canyon Nature Center on Jan. 11, just three days

after the Orange County attack.

To better inform the public about lions and other hazardous

animals such as bobcats and rattlesnakes, signs have been placed

along the hillside, said Burbank Police Lt. Bruce Speirs, who manages

the Burbank Animal Shelter.

But Speirs, a lifelong resident of Burbank, says he has never

heard of a mountain lion attack in the city and said people should

not be overly concerned about attacks since they are "extremely


"This is the first reported sighting, and it was only one person

[who reported it], so it was all based on what one person saw at one

time," he said. "And we oftentimes have people confuse a bobcat for a

mountain lion, so we will closely look at the report to determine

what the situation is."

Glendale officials, meanwhile, are warning people to report any

sightings following reports of four mountain lion- related incidents

in the past three months in the Verdugo Mountains in Glendale.

To protect homes against mountain lions, the fish and game

department recommends installing special landscaping and outdoor

lighting, keeping pets and livestock secure, not feeding wildlife and

watching children when they play outside.

People who encounter a mountain lion should not approach the

animal or run away from it, and should not crouch down or bend over,

officials said. Instead, they should raise their arms to make

themselves appear larger. They should throw stones or branches at the

lion, but not bend or crouch down to get them. If the lion attacks,

they should face the animal and fight back with anything they can.

To report a sighting, call the Burbank Animal Shelter at 238-3340.

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