Several sightings of predatory animals throughout the county have sent a wave of fear through some local outdoor enthusiasts, and experts say more encounters can be expected.
On June 4, the Pismo Beach Police Department sent out a press release that reported the sighting of two mountain lions in the ravine area between Highland Avenue and Capanna, and mountain lion warnings have been posted at the entrance to Bishop Peak for more than two weeks.
In Ventura, popular hiking trails at the edge of the city have been closed after multiple lion sightings.
But the concern locally isn't just about mountain lions. Several coyote sightings have been reported, and according to Bob Stafford, an associate biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game, Lopez Lake is experiencing problems with bears.
Stafford said that more human encounters with these carnivorous animals are likely because as summer temperatures rise, many following their prey will leave their natural habitats and wander into suburban settings in search of water.
According to Stafford, there hasn't been a confirmed case of a mountain lion attack on a person in SLO County, though people should still treat the beasts with caution appropriate to a large animal.
"They have the potential to kill people and they have," Stafford said of mountain lions.
In an effort to help notify locals of the potential dangers, the Pismo Beach Police Department is hanging up precautionary flyers and providing extra patrolling of risky areas, according to Detective A.J. Santana.
To minimize the chances of being attacked by mountain lions, the California Department of Fish and Game suggests not hiking or biking at dawn, dusk, or night. But if someone is approached by a mountain lion, the department suggests not running, but instead facing the animal, making noise, and trying to look bigger by waving arms.
"Make the lion have a concern about attacking you," Stafford said.