A noticeable increase in mountain lion sightings near Sonoma State University in recent years is starting to worry students.
Grace Alloway, a business major, worries about what might happen if the mountain lion gets too close to people. Alloway said: “Hearing that the mountain lion was so close to campus definitely made me nervous, not only for the welfare of people on campus or families who like to walk with their young children, but also for the welfare of the mountain lion.
Nicholas Lerseth, an English student, expressed concern that he would not be able to see the lion at night if he is on campus due to minimal lighting. Lerseths said: “They are predators after all. Very stealthy ones.
As humans build more and more infrastructure in the backyard of our wildlife, there is always the risk of humans and wildlife crossing paths. Matthew Lizarraga, a senior Bio Major wants people to respect the fact that the land SSU was built on was the lion’s house first. Lizarraga said, “I’m not too nervous because we’re in the country so close to the wildlife preserves and Taylor Mountain!”
The week before the start of the semester, two mountain lion sightings took place in Rohnert Park. A mountain lion was seen walking in Copeland Creek between Country Club Drive and Snyder Lane around 4.30am on August 18. On August 20, another sighting occurred in the Foxtail Golf Course area around 10 p.m.
Authorities were unable to capture the puma, but Sonoma State Police Chief Nader Oweis wrote in an email: “They usually go back and forth to nearby mountains through Copeland Creek.” Oweis continued, “They are usually reported early in the morning, as they are secretive. Although we are getting more and more reports of them, attacks on people are very rare. »
Rohnert Park Public Safety Department staff Aaron Johnson said, “If you spot a mountain lion, leave it alone. Give him space and don’t try to get close.
With the continuous increase in temperature, our drought lets these cougars descend into the streams. Many juvenile cougars separate from their parents and go claim other lands. Claudia Luke, director of SSU’s sustainability program, said in an email: “We need the cougars to walk around. As top predators, cougars are an essential species for our wild lands. Areas with mountain lions are home to greater species diversity – greater biodiversity. And, areas with greater biodiversity give humans more of the benefits we rely on, like clean water, clean air, pollinators for our crops, and lower risk of disease.
In 2021, the SSU Police Department reported two sightings of mountain lions on campus. The first mountain lion was seen near the softball field on Juniper Lane on February 23. Then on October 27, another mountain lion was spotted near the north entrance to SSU near the Green Music Center. Authorities were unable to locate the mountain lion each time.
After the second sighting on campus, SSU sent out a school-wide email providing guidance to students on what to do if a mountain lion is seen near or on campus. These tips included: “Stay calm, don’t approach a lion, don’t run away from a lion, and don’t crouch or bend over.”
If you see a mountain lion, call the Rohnert Park Public Safety Department NO emergency number (707)-584-2600. If you spot a mountain lion on campus, contact SSU Police at (707)-664-4444.