A photographer who monitors trail cameras in the Southern California wilderness experienced a dangerously close mountain lion encounter on Friday.
Girardeau told FTW Outdoors that he and de Vlugt had just checked a few cameras when he saw the mountain lion run up a hill and stop to watch them from perhaps 20 feet away.
In the footage the male mountain lion, or cougar, peers intently through bushes and does not flinch as Girardeau repeatedly yells, “Get back!” in an attempt to keep the animal at bay.
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As they slowly back away, the cat briefly follows.
Girardeau’s Instagram description reads: “I think there are two things that could have caused this: either he has a kill nearby and he was defending it or he ran up not realizing we were humans since he couldn’t completely see us from down below.
“There were deer in the area that we saw so he probably assumed it was them.”
Mountain lions in Southern California prey largely on mule deer, which they stalk and ambush.
Girardeau wrote: “Mountain lions do not predate on humans and this is why it’s good to hold your ground because any prey item for mountain lions runs away. If you don’t do this, the mountain lion is not going to assume you are prey.”
Girardeau, whose social media feeds contains cougar footage captured by motion-sensor cameras, told FTW Outdoors that about two minutes passed before the cougar stopped following them.
–Image courtesy of Mark Girardeau