Natural Sightings #649 - Mountain Lion.JPG

A large Mountain Lion in Bear Valley Springs.

A trail camera at Les and Toshimi Kristof's home in Bear Valley Springs captured this image of a large Mountain Lion (Felis concolor) in their yard at about 9 p.m. on Sept. 8. Note the size of its paws.

The BVS residents have seen Mountain Lions at other times on their property or discovered footage of them on their trail camera.

Tehachapi area residents have seen more Mountain Lions in the past decade or two. Part of that may be attributed to the passage of Proposition 117 back in 1990, which banned the hunting of Mountain Lions in California.

In the 30 years since then, the Mountain Lion population grew somewhat, though the California Department of Fish and Wildlife believes that the population is fairly stable now. The CDFW estimates that the population of Mountain Lions in California is somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 animals. However, the CDFW has been working on a long-term project to come up with a more reliable, statistically sound calculation of the state's Mountain Lion population.

The growing prevalence of motion-activated trail cameras like the one that Les and Toshimi have also has increased the evidence and awareness of Mountain Lions' presence. These reclusive cats are active primarily at night and in the twilight hours, so before trail cameras were available, unless people happened to catch a glimpse of one or noticed their tracks, Mountain Lions roamed undetected.

Mountain Lions' main source of prey are California Mule Deer, and the deer continue to thrive in the Tehachapi Mountains, so our area remains good habitat for Mountain Lions for that reason.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) name for Mountain Lion is tükumbutsi, pronounced tuh-koom-BOOTs.

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.