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A mountain lion was reportedly spotted at the Hancock College Lompoc Valley Center on Tuesday morning, prompting students, faculty and staff to be encouraged to stay indoors.

The school received a report of a confirmed mountain lion sighting around 11:30 a.m. The animal was reportedly spotted on the northwest side of the campus, near the adjacent hiking trails between the school and Highway 1. The mountain lion was last seen traveling northbound and away from campus, according to Hancock public affairs, which noted that a shelter-in-place was not enacted.

“The Lompoc Police Department and the Santa Barbara [County] Sheriff’s Office were notified and are working in partnership with the Allan Hancock College District Police Department,” read a portion of a statement from Hancock College. “As a precaution, the college has also placed warning signs on the LVC campus. Information on what to do in the event of a mountain lion sighting was also distributed to staff, faculty and students via email.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was notified about the sighting and determined that the incident was a natural occurrence in the animal’s natural domain, the school reported.

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The college is urging the community to remain vigilant when outdoors, and asks that any mountain lion sightings on or near Hancock campuses be reported immediately to the Hancock College District Police Department at 805-922-6966, ext. 3911, for the Santa Maria campus, or 805-735-3366, ext. 5911, at the Lompoc Valley Center.

The school also provided tips from the Department of Fish and Wildlife regarding what to do if one encounters a mountain lion. Those include:

  • Do not hike alone.
  • Keep children close to you: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
  • Do not approach a lion.
  • Do not run from a lion: Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If there are small children there, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
  • Do not crouch or bend over: Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
  • Appear larger: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
  • Fight back if attacked: Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

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