Thought El Niño, earthquakes, mudslides, droughts, smog alerts and the Medfly were the only natural dangers Californians face?

Michael L. Bryant (, world music personality extraordinaire of KUSP-FM 89.9, Santa Cruz, sent the following memo that was distributed via e-mail and posters to benefit University of California-Santa Cruz students:

In the month of September, there have been two sightings of mountain lions on the UC Santa Cruz campus. In one instance, a mountain lion was seen in the meadow between the UCSC Farm and Hagar Drive; in another, a mountain lion was sighted near the bike path in the vicinity of the Lower Quarry.

Both of these sightings occurred in the early morning hours, and in both cases, the animals made no threatening movements toward humans. These sightings, however, serve to remind us--and to inform newcomers to the area--that most of our campus is situated in mountain lion habitat.

Therefore, when you are in the woods, it is prudent to recall the following safety precautions advised by the Department of Fish and Game.

1) Do not hike or jog alone in the woods, especially at night, at twilight, in late evening, or in the early morning hours.

2) If you do encounter a lion, the California Department of Fish and Game suggests you take the following actions:

Stop! Do not run from a lion. Back away from it slowly, but only if you can do so safely. Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack. Face the lion and stand upright.

Stay calm when you come upon a lion. Talk calmly, yet firmly to it.

Do not approach a lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

Do not jog or hike alone. Make plenty of noise to reduce your chances of surprising a lion. A sturdy walking stick is a good idea: you can use it to ward off a lion.

Keep children close to you, making sure they are always within your sight. Talk to them about lions and tell them what to do if they meet one.

Do not crouch or bend over; do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you're wearing one. If you have small children with you, pick them up so they won't panic and run.

If the lion behaves aggressively, throw stones, branches, or whatever you can grab without crouching or turning your back.

Fight back and try to stay on your feet if a lion attacks you. Lions have been driven off by prey that fights back!

Please report all mountain lion sightings on or near the ucsc campus, as well as any animal carcass that could be attributed to a lion kill.

Contact University Animal Control Officer Deb White at 459-2231.