If you think you saw something shady at the String Cheese Incident concert last week, it may not have been just another hippie in a fuzzy bear hat.
U.C. Berkeley police reported Tuesday that a mountain lion has been spotted roaming the grounds near the university's popular Greek Theater on the eastern edge of campus.
According to officials, a security guard working at an electrical switching station has spotted the feline predator three times since June, once with two cubs in tow. The creature appeared to be hunting a deer each time and was last seen on July 19 around 2:30 a.m.
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Mountain lions are not particularly unusual to the area -- the big cats frequently prowl the hills above campus. In September 2010, one managed to make it all the way into a residential neighborhood before police shot and killed it.
Last summer, a mountain lion was suspected of mauling several sheep and goats along the side of the road in Half Moon Bay.
Berkeley campus police issued the following guidelines:
- Avoid hiking alone, especially between dusk and dawn, when lions normally do their hunting. Make plenty of noise while you hike so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.
- Always keep children in sight while hiking and within arm’s reach in areas that can conceal a lion. Mountain lions seem to be drawn to children.
- Hike with a good walking stick; this can be useful in warding off a lion.
- Do not approach a lion, especially if it is feeding or with its young. Most lions will avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Stay calm and face the lion. Do not run, because this may trigger the lion’s instinct to attack. Try to appear larger by raising your hands.
- Pick up small children so they don’t panic and run. This will also make you appear larger. Avoid bending over or crouching.
- If the lion acts aggressively, throw rocks, branches or whatever can be obtained without turning your back or bending over.
- Fight back if attacked. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks or bare hands.
Report any potential sightings to campus police by calling (510) 642-6760. In the mean time, take a look at some of the other dangerous predators that call Northern California home below: