Natural Sightings

A Mountain Lion rests in Bear Valley Springs.

Harold Jones took this photo in Bear Valley Springs of a resting Mountain Lion (Puma concolor). Mountain Lions are actually found all throughout the Tehachapi Mountains, but most local residents never see them because they are typically reclusive around people, and so stealthy that even when present they are usually undetected.

Harold explains how he happened to get this rare photo: “This morning I happened to look out the window and saw this guy lounging about! We are up in Bear Valley Springs and had heard about other people spotting lions but we never thought we'd see one. It was exciting but also a little bit scary. The lion visited for about 20 minutes and then went on its way. What a way to start the morning!”

Mountain Lions, also known as cougars, pumas, panthers and dozens of other names in different languages, are considered to have widest range of any large land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

Mountain Lions got this particular common name from their tawny coats, which are similar in coloration to that of African Lions. Although they are the fourth largest cat in the world, after lions, tigers and leopards, Mountain Lions are actually more closely related to cheetahs and even domestic cats than they are the big cats.

A Mountain Lion's favored diet is ungulates, so in our area that means they are heavily dependent on California Mule Deer. Healthy adult American Elk are much larger and so are more difficult prey. Cougars occasionally kill goats or other domestic animals.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for Mountain Lion is tukumbuutsi, pronounced too-kum-BOOTS-si.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.