The tucked away location in the Santa Monica Mountains gives Pepperdine its signature expansive ocean views and adds a nice element of privacy and security to the campus.
While we enjoy our mountainous home and bask in the California sunlight, it can be easy to forget about some of our furry neighbors lurking nearby. While it is a fun surprise to see deer at the CCB or a bunny on Lower Dorm Road, the mountain lions that live in these hills are a frightening reality to grapple with.
Since the beginning of the semester, public relations has sent four emails to inform students about mountain lion observations on or near the campus. For security reasons, it’s nice to be aware of a mountain lion’s proximity to campus, but unfortunately the fastest time between sending one of these emails and being sighted was 12 hours.
For example, DPS spotted a mountain lion near campus at 8:15 p.m. on September 30, but the Pepperdine community received the email about it at 5:07 p.m. the next day. That’s a long time not to know that a mountain lion was around, especially given the reasons for the shipment given in the email.
“Pepperdine officials share confirmed mountain lion sightings near the Malibu campus to ensure the university community is informed, but not alarmed, of the wildlife we share the Santa Monica Mountains with,” the Public Relations Office wrote in the Email from October 1st.
If the goal of the emails informing students about mountain lion sightings is to inform them of the presence of wildlife, they need to be sent much more timely.
While the thought of mountain lions potentially roaming campus waiting for an attack when you walk home from the HAWC at midnight is scary, in reality it is unlikely.
There have only been 11 confirmed cases of mountain lions attacking humans in the state since 2000, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The CDFW defines a mountain lion attack as “an incident that results in direct physical contact between a human and a mountain lion that results in physical injury or death to the person”.
Of these 11 confirmed attacks, only one occurred in the Santa Monica Mountains, which gives us pretty good chances of never having a dangerous encounter with our local cats.
While the chances are you’ll ever face a hungry mountain lion on campus, there are things you can do to get away with it safely.
The National Park Service recommends staying calm, avoiding approaching or running away from a mountain lion, and staying upright. If a mountain lion is moving towards you, the NPS recommends making yourself appear as intimidating as possible. If the animal is still coming towards you to attack, you must follow NPS’s most succinct survival advice yet: “Fight it!”
Fortunately for us here at Pepperdine, NPS says you can use a backpack as a shield against an attacking mountain lion.
While our on campus notification system for mountain lions is seriously lacking, and the thought of their proximity can be a bit unsettling, in reality there is probably nothing to worry about (although I’ll keep my indestructible, NPS-certified backpack badge with me just in case).
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Contact Addison Whiten on Twitter (@addisonwhiten) or email: [email protected]
Addison Whiten California Mountain Mountain Lion Mountain Lion Sighting Public Relations Safety Santa Monica Mountains The fine print wildlife