UC police issued a safety alert Tuesday evening about a mountain lion sighting above the Cal campus.

The sighting occurred on July 17 at 9 a.m. on the Upper Fire Trail near Skyline Ridge, according to the alert, which was posted at 5:46 p.m.

The University of California Police Department said there have been several mountain lion sightings in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus over the past couple of years and suggested a possible reason for their presence is deer, which are a major food source for the big cats. Carcasses of animals suspected to have been attacked by mountain lions were also discovered, the agency reported.

Encounters between humans and mountain lions, also known as cougars, are rare, and according to experts the cats go out of their way to avoid them.

The last mountain lion sighting reported by Berkeleyside was in November 2018 when a couple sitting on a bench around 6:30 p.m. spotted a cougar near the fence that separates the Lawrence Hall of Science and the Berkeley Lab. It was one of four sightings reported by Berkeleyside in 2018.

UCPD reiterated its guidelines on mountain lions, namely:

  • 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 arm’s 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.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...