Oct 31, 2006
University Police officers spotted a mountain lion near the northern boundary of the HSU campus last night, after responding to a California Avenue resident's reported sighting in the neighborhood.
At about 10 p.m., Arcata PD and UPD sent officers to patrol the wooded residential area that borders Humboldt State’s residence halls, where Sergeant Bill Honsal and Officer Rodney Dickerson spotted the big cat near the intersection of Greenbriar Lane and Terrace Ave, carrying a raccoon in its mouth.
“The mountain lion reacted normally to the officers”, said Chief Thomas Dewey of the University Police Department. “When they shined their flashlights and shouted, the lion dropped the raccoon and fled from the officers. The lion showed no aggressive behavior towards anyone.”
Officials from California’s Department of Fish and Game were contacted and advised of the sighting, but declined to respond due to the absence of any specific threatening behavior.
As a precaution, UPD put out safety information to the campus community, including students living in residence halls near the sighting. These safety tips include not hiking alone, not running from a mountain lion, and appearing larger if one does have an encounter.
“Hike with a buddy, look big, yell, raise your arms, throw rocks, but don’t crouch down or run,” said Chief Dewey. “Hold your ground or slowly back away, but convince the animal that you are a danger to it.”
Mountain lions are native, natural residents of the coastal woodlands, including some 600 protected acres of Arcata’s Community Forest just east of campus. They are typically shy, especially during the day, and rarely approach humans.
“There has never been a report of anyone attacked by a lion on or near campus,” said Chief Dewey, “but this is a good opportunity to remind everyone as to how to react should they encounter a mountain lion.”