A mountain lion was spotted in the Berkeley hills Wednesday evening (file photo). Photo: Jitze Couperus/Flickr

A mountain lion, possibly looking to snack on a deer in the hills, came quite close to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Wednesday evening, university police reported.

Around 7 p.m. a lab employee spotted the mountain lion near the west fence line of Building 88, which is in the westernmost portion of the lab site, according to a Nixle alert released by UCPD around 8 a.m. Thursday.

“Deer are a major food source for mountain lions,” said the alert. “In the past couple of years, several sightings of mountain lions have occurred in the hills above the Berkeley campus and carcasses of animals suspected to have been attacked by mountain lions were also discovered.”

Earlier this year a mountain lion wandered all the way down to the Clark Kerr Campus, near Warring Street and Dwight Way.

UCPD advises taking the following steps to avoid encounters with the large felines:

  • Avoid hiking or jogging alone, especially between dusk and dawn, when lions normally do their hunting. Make plenty of noise while you hike so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.
  • Always keep children and pets in sight while hiking and within arms reach in areas that can conceal a lion.
  • Hike with a good walking stick; this can be useful in warding off a lion.

To reduce the chances of an attack when encountering a mountain lion:

  • Do not approach a lion, especially if it is feeding or with its young. Most lions will avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
  • If you encounter a mountain lion, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to look bigger by waving your arms; throw rocks or other objects. Pick up small children.
  • Fight back if attacked. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks, or bare hands.
  • If a mountain lion attacks a person, immediately call 911.
The mountain lion was spotted near the west fence of Building 88 (circled). Map: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeleyside mark-up)
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Natalie Orenstein

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...