The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office has begun deploying deputies on off-road motorcycles on trails in the hills in response to four recent mountain lion sightings in the Woodside/Portola Valley area.
It is hoped that the off-road motorcycles "will move the mountain lions away," according to a statement released by the Sheriff's Office.
The four recent sightings, all in the last few weeks, have been on Vintage Court in Woodside, the 400 block of Old La Honda Road in Portola Valley, the 200 block of Floresta Way in Ladera, and at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley.
The Sheriff's Office will conduct public meetings to talk about the mountain lion sightings at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Portola Valley Town Hall and at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Independence Hall in Woodside.
According to state wildlife officials, the area includes "natural roaming grounds" for the mountain lions and they are often sighted as they seek deer, their primary source of food.
"The Sheriff's Office wants to remind the public that encounters with mountain lions are extremely rare. The animal wants to avoid confrontation in order to avoid injury and preserve its ability to hunt."
When encountering a mountain lion, people are strongly advised to not run away but instead make noise and appear as big as possible. "Open your coat if you have one. Raise your arms, throw objects at the animal. Do not, however, turn your back. If an attack does occur, fight back and use whatever might be available. Always keep children and pets close by when hiking in mountain lion habitat."
Homeowners who live in the hills are advised to not keep pet food outside and reduce any vegetation that attracts deer.
The Sheriff's Office is working with the California Department of Fish and Game to monitor mountain lion activity.
Anyone sighting or encountering a mountain lion should call 911 if there is an emergency or 363-4911 for non-emergencies.
-- Don Kazak, Palo Alto Weekly