Two sightings of mountain lions were made in the past few days—in the Sherman Oaks/Studio City hills of the Santa Monica Mountains, and in the hills near Barham Boulevard near the Toluca Lake and Hollywood border.
Experts say the hot weather could be causing the spate of wild animal sightings, as food becomes more scarce in the mountains because of the hot, dry weather, and the animals venture more into populated areas.
Bears were seen in the hills of Duarte over the past few days, the Studio City has had its share of multiple sightings recently, and one woman said a raccoon with all of its babies recently ate all the koi in her fish pond in Studio City.
Then, there have been two sightings of mountain lions at different ends of Studio City.
Michael Green, who has lived in the area for three decades, said he couldn't believe his eyes at 3:15 in the morning when his dog was going crazy at his house near the top of Camino de la Cumbre in Sherman Oaks, not far from Mulholland Drive and west of Coldwater Canyon Boulevard.
"I looked out a front window and saw this large mountain lion across the road," Green told Studio City Patch. "At first I only saw its hindquarters and thought it was a big golden retriever, but then it turned sideways and I saw it was a pretty big mountain lion."
Green estimated the cat at about 80 pounds, much larger than a German shepherd.
Wildlife experts say it's possible the same animal was what Janice Kendrick McLaughlin saw on the grounds of the Oakwood Apartments off Barham Boulevard days before in the late afternoon.
"It was about 8 feet from the pavement and it wasn't scared of us at all," McLaughlin said. "It just looked at us and kept walking. I wanted to get a picture of it but by the time I got my cell phone and got out of the car it was gone."
McLaughlin said she has seen bobcats and coyotes a lot lately in the area, where the property butts up against the hills of Griffith Park and Forest Lawn-Hollywood. She said she checked in with an expert at the Wildlife Waystation, the nonprofit animal sanctuary in the Angeles National Forest, which has wounded mountain lions, and she described the pointed ears and size of the animal she saw.
"They said, 'Yep, that sounds like a mountain lion all right,'" McLaughlin said. "I'm not scared. It didn't look like it was interested in attacking us, but it was an amazing thing to see."
Andrew Hughan, the information officer for the California Department of Fish and Game, was already in Southern California Tuesday afternoon because of the bear sightings. He told Patch he had no recent reports of mountain lions in the Hollywood Hills area, but he's not surprised.
"Our mountain lion population has been pretty healthy, and we had recent reports of some being killed by poachers or hit by cars, so I'm glad that there are some still around," Hughan said. "As a general rule, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. And if you feel threatened, or they are stuck in an area, the best thing to do is call 911."
Hughan said an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions are roaming wild in California, and they have been seen in all of the state's 56 counties.
The Fish and Game department and Los Angeles County's Department of Animal Care and Control do not usually hunt or trap animals and move them to another location unless they are a danger to people.
"It is very rare that we have to actually come out and subdue an animal," Hughan said. "We prefer not to."
However, for those people who spotted the large felines locally, their habits have changed—they will be a bit more on the lookout.
The McLaughlins have two small girls in wheelchairs. They also fear for dogs and cats in the area.
"I will tell you we're not going for a hike up that hill, we will not feel comfortable doing that," McLaughin said about the area near the Oakwood Apartments.
And Green said, "I still can't believe that I saw this out here in my neighborhood—what is something like that doing in the hills near Mulholland Drive and Beverly Hills? It's their territory, I understand that. I respect that."
In the past, he has carried a knife when walking his dog late at night in case they came upon a coyote. But, since he has seen the mountain lion sniffing around his neighbor's mailbox, Green said he has to be a bit more cautious.
"Those things are fast," he said. "And if I go out walking at night, now I'm going to carry a small gun."
For more information about wildlife and how to coexist with it, go to the state Department of Fish and Game's Keep Me Wild Program here http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild
You can report a mountain lion sighting directly to Andrew Hughan at the state Deparment of Fish and Game at (916) 322-8944.
To report a sighting of any wild animal on Patch, and go to the COMMENTS area at the bottom of the page.