Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

General Palm Springs area.

Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby backpackpack » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:13 pm

Hello all, it's been a while since I've posted here. I have been hiking a bit, but not anywhere too new, until this weekend. I went from San Diego east through Julian to the 78 and right where it starts to get into Anza Borrego, I stopped at Plum Canyon and walked south. I walked south up a canyon down a dry riverbed but the further I got the more I started to see scuff marks and signs of animal activity. Then I saw some droppings on the ground that looked rather big and not like coyote poo I see around (no berries or plant material I could see).

I was planning to sleep overnight but I freaked myself out. It looked like I was on an animal freeway and I saw six large droppings on my way and convinced myself I was going to camp in the middle of a mountain lion killing field. It was a narrow canyon and I thought I would be blocking some mountain lion's path and leave it with no choice but to eviscerate me.

Now I think this is pretty silly since attacks are so rare, but is there some danger in camping in a place like this? I like to sit in my chair and read or simply look at the stars for hours from dusk until late into the night. I think this would be the perfect time for a mountain lion to eat me :shock:

Here are some pictures I took. Is this from a mountain lion or coyote? Should I worry about anything out there or is it safe to sit in a chair in a mountain lion canyon and read or skywatch by myself?

I ended up hiking back down and sleeping in the wash area where I felt completely comfortable.

poop4.jpg


poop3.jpg


poop2.jpg


poop6.jpg
User avatar
backpackpack
 
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:18 pm

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby zippetydude » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:23 am

Hi backpackpack. No, you're not being silly, hundreds of people are eaten every year by mountain lions in Southern California alone. 8)

I am quite serious in that you're not being silly, but I am of course being silly in my second assertion. Your chances of being attacked, let alone killed by a mountain lion, are roughly equal to winning the lottery. But that is NOT how it feels! I have seen mountain lions 6 times on trail runs where I have come around a turn and unexpectedly frightened the poor things. They disappear each time and, even though I am running (you'll hear people say, "Never run if you see a mountain lion, it will make them attack like a cat after a mouse!") the truth is they have evolved to be extremely cautious creatures and they seem to be pre-programmed to prey only on selective creatures like deer. Consider this from WIkipedia:

A total of 125 attacks, 27 of which fatal,[1] have been documented in North America in the past 100 years. Fatal cougar attacks are extremely rare and occur much less frequently than fatal snake bites, fatal lightning strikes, or fatal bee stings.[citation needed] Children are particularly vulnerable.

Compare that to snake bites...

"It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous snake bites in the United States, and about five of those people die.[5] Most fatal bites are attributed to the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the western diamondback rattlesnake." So, in the past 100 years, perhaps 750,000 snake bites, and around 500 deaths. Almost 20 times as high as mountain lions.

Compare that to lightning strikes...

According to the NOAA, over the last 20 years, the United States averaged 51 annual lightning strike fatalities, placing it in the second position, just behind floods for deadly weather.[14][15] In the US, between 9% and 10% of those struck die,[16] with an annual average of 25 deaths in the 2010s decade (16 in 2017). So now we're talking almost 100 times as high.

This fear is akin to being afraid to fly when in fact the drive to the airport is far more dangerous than the flight itself. We all feel it, but probably the safest place you will ever be is sitting by a campfire out in the mountains enjoying a beautiful star filled sky.

For me, the remedy was repeated exposure. After thousands of hikes and runs and camping trips, after seeing mountain lions and bears and rattlers, I have yet to receive a single injury from an animal other than a nasty little mosquito.


z
User avatar
zippetydude
 
Posts: 2703
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 5:40 am

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby Ed » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:42 am

I think you made a wise decision. In any case, you would not have had a relaxing evening. Zip left out the danger from bee stings! I had a bad reaction once to a wasp bite. Ever since, I've been terrified of encountering swarms of bees in situations where you can't avoid them (e.g., thick brush on either side of the trail). Even more so when I have a dog with me.

The website below has verified mountain lion attacks in California:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Mountain-Lion/Attacks

Now and then I pass by the place where the hiker was killed by a mountain lion in Cuyamaca State Park in 1994. Not at all a remote place, it is on the paved road to Cuyamaca Peak. She was a small woman, attacked from behind. An experienced hiker, I believe it was early Saturday morning. My wife once saw a mountain lion a few yards from our driveway. She said it was large, completely unafraid, and simply stared at her. Fortunately, she was in the car.

I know that we are statistically safe from these things, as we are from terrorist attacks and mass killings. But the statistics do change with the situation. Not many people are killing by lightning strikes, but the probabilities are a little different when you are on an exposed ridge in a lightning storm. Still, the greatest danger in hiking is undoubtedly the drive.
Ed
 
Posts: 653
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm
Location: San Diego Area

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby backpackpack » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:49 am

Zippy's post made me feel better, then Ed's post made me feel unbetter again!

I agree - mountain lion attacks are very rare. But it is also rare to hike into a mountain lion canyon and sit in a chair by yourself at night. I know if I was standing up I would scare the lion away, but if I was sitting down I might look like a nice meal!
User avatar
backpackpack
 
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:18 pm

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby Ed » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:51 am

backpackpack wrote:Zippy's post made me feel better, then Ed's post made me feel unbetter again!


That's the great thing about this discussion board! You ask for advice, you get it, and you end up more confused!
Ed
 
Posts: 653
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm
Location: San Diego Area

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby Ellen » Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:04 am

Ed wrote:
backpackpack wrote:Zippy's post made me feel better, then Ed's post made me feel unbetter again!


That's the great thing about this discussion board! You ask for advice, you get it, and you end up more confused!


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks guys 8)

Miles of smiles,
Ellen
Ellen
 
Posts: 2479
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:38 am
Location: Riverside, CA

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby OtherHand » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:50 pm

Here's a decent YouTube video showing how to identify mountain lion scat, with far too many closeups. Probably don't want to watch it while having a meal.
OtherHand
 
Posts: 240
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:07 pm

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby BackcountryMike » Fri Oct 11, 2019 10:15 am

The statistics online (1 in XXXXXXX chance) aren't that useful for people who backpack at night regularly. Our odds are much much higher.

I'm pretty certain they take into account everyone, including those sitting at home watching TV that don't even know what hiking is.

For example, I was concerned about lightening strikes when hiking a few months ago. They say 1 in 3000 lifetime odds. But that includes everyone. Let's say 90 percent of strikes hit hardcore outdoor types (hiking, camping, golf, boating, etc.) that actually go out during storms, these type of people likely compose under 1 percent of the population. So I would think the odds in a lifetime for these type of people (like myself) greatly increase to maybe even 1 in 20 or even worse. I don't have the exact math here or even exact statistics, but I'm just putting this out there as a qualitative guide.

But if you know the precautions you can improve you odds too.

Useful statistics would say your odds of being struck by lightening during a storm if you are outside would be 1 in XXX. And they could get even more useful if they included what region, what elevation, what topography (mountain peak, ravine, etc.) you were in, etc.

BTW do you use a tent? I never heard of mountain lions collapsing tents, so that would make me feel safer, especially if the fly was on!
BackcountryMike
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:34 pm

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby zippetydude » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:00 am

Oh my goodness, I must be the ultimate math nerd in the world but let's stop and think about this for a minute.

27 deaths in the past 100 years.

They were not all hikers, I know at least one was a woman riding her bike in Orange County...so we all better quit riding bikes in heavily populated areas...

But even if they were, you're still the safest person on the planet sitting alone in a chair in the dark in the mountains with no protection whatsoever!

It is strictly, 100%, totally, completely (and in all other ways that I have not included) your dark imaginings while you are sitting there that are preying upon you.

Yes, you are entitled to make your own decisions. And each time you give in to fear, you reinforce it. And each time you dismiss it, you get to enjoy the peace of a beautiful starry sky in the wilderness.

Your life, your call.

For me, I've dismissed it every single time, and every time I have been right. And so have millions of other uneaten hikers and campers over the past 100 years. But I understand, dark imaginings feel very real. I tell you what, I'll put my money where my mouth is. Give it a shot my way, and if you're eaten by a mountain lion I'll give you $100. How's that for a deal?

z
User avatar
zippetydude
 
Posts: 2703
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 5:40 am

Re: Poo ID + are my mountain lion fears unfounded?

Postby Ed » Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:35 am

It's a personal choice. I have always thought driving was the greatest danger in hiking, followed by weather. Mountaineering is a little different. But I do have fears of rattlesnakes and mountain lions I don't find as easy to dismiss as Zip. More credit to Zip for doing so, but everybody has to decide for themselves. Bees and wasps are up there with rattlesnakes and mountain lions, in my psychology. As for bears, I never worried about encountering bears on the trail, and regret not having seen more. But in my backpacking days, I had a fear of going to sleep with cookie crumbs on my lips! I have also had encounters with bulls and wild horses that made me nervous. But less nervous than finding that I was sharing territory with hunters.
Ed
 
Posts: 653
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm
Location: San Diego Area

Next

Return to Mt. San Jacinto & Santa Rosa Mountains

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests

cron