SCRIPPS RANCH (NEWS 8) - A four-legged prowler, on the loose in the North County, is raising concerns among residents unsure of what to do when wildlife gets too close for comfort.
Two families on Rue Saint Lazare in Scripps Ranch said they spotted what they thought was a mountain lion near their properties -- one thought they spotted the prowler in a bush in their front yard Tuesday night, while their next-door neighbor thought they may have spotted one a few weeks ago.
After Tuesday night's sighting, the resident called the Animal Control Services emergency line but the agency said it wouldn't be able to trap it so no crew was sent.
This isn't the first time Scripps Ranch residents have reported seeing mountain lions in their neighborhood and the most recent sighting has rehashed the conversation about what to do if residents cross paths with one.
According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, these creatures focus on shape and movement when hunting for prey so it's important to look as human as possible. Although they don't see colors, wearing contrasting colors can help distinguish you from dinner.
The foundation also cautions residents to be extremely wary if you come across a dead animal, as mountain lions will keep their dead prey, sometimes for weeks, and protect it at all costs. Additionally, those running or jogging through areas inhabited by the animal should exercise caution. Rapid movements such as running or jogging can trigger a mountain lion's instinct to chase, and that's a race you won't win. For the same reasons, you should also always keep your animals on a leash when you're in a mountain lion's home.
This excerpt from MountainLion.org explains the recommended escape route:
"Lions will not turn their back on you if they view you as dangerous, because they know from their own hunting behavior that predators attack from behind. So a lion not backing down is often a sign that you already have the advantage... The best way to ensure that both you and the lion may leave safely is for you to back away slowly while continuing to look as big and intimidating as possible, leaving the lion avenues of escape. "
If your home is near an open area where mountain lions are known to roam, keeping your pets inside at night and store animal food to keep them safe.
According to the foundation, there have only been 19 fatal mountain lion attacks since 1985. The foundation also says that there are somewhere between 250 and 300 mountain lions currently in San Diego County.