County Reminder: Beware Of Large Predators

A mountain lion spotted prowling on 35th Street. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos County officials are reminding the public that springtime typically brings with it an increase of large predators roaming throughout the forests and traveling on the trails surrounding the local area – and that means some of these animals will likely enter the community’s residential areas, too.
The animals are seeking food or water, especially during times of drought. In this area, large predators can include mountain lions, black bears, bobcats and coyotes. Please review the following guidelines from New Mexico Game & Fish related to areas where you may encounter these animals. Parents are encouraged to discuss these guidelines with their children.
On your property or around town:
  • Closely supervise children whenever they play outdoors.
  • Make sure children are home before dusk and are not outside before dawn. These are the times that large predators are most active.
  • Structure landscaping so that it eliminates hiding cover for predators. No need to remove all vegetation but remove enough to detect a predator if it comes into the yard. Make it difficult for them to approach unseen.
  • Install outside lighting, preferably with motion sensors. Light areas around the property where people walk.
  • Close off open spaces below porches and decks.
  • Don’t plant non-native shrubs and plants – it can often encourage prey species to come onto the property. Predators follow prey.
  • Roaming pets are easy prey. Bring them in at night. If they must stay out, confine them to a kennel with a secure roof.
  • Do not feed pets outside where they or their food can attract predators or other small mammals like raccoons, which predators prey upon.
  • Store garbage securely. If a predator doesn’t find abundant food, it will move on.
In the forest or on trails:
There are no definite rules about what to do if encountering a large predator. In most cases, the animal will detect the person first and will leave the area. Attacks are rare compared to the number of encounters. However,
when encountering an animal, here are some suggestions. Remember: Every situation is different with respect to the animal, the terrain, and the person.
  • Stay calm – If you see a predator that hasn’t seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, talk out loud to let the animal know of your presence.
  • Stop – Back away slowly while facing the predator if you can do so safely. Avoid direct eye contact. Don’t run as this might stimulate its instinct to chase and attack. Give it plenty of room to escape.
  • Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms and open your jacket if you are wearing one. If you have small children with you, protect them by picking them up so they don’t panic and run.
  • Never approach – Wild animals are unpredictable, however, they will usually avoid a confrontation unless pushed into one.