This week, three cougars were filmed roaming outside the Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa.
The club posted a few videos of the big cats on YouTube and social media, catching locals’ attention.
“I was actually rewinding because I was thinking, ‘Am I just seeing things at this point? “, interviewed Andrea Chmelik of Pismo Beach. “It was shocking. It was amazing.”
The club captured the trio just after one on Tuesday morning using two brand new cameras.
“It happened many years ago, but we haven’t seen it in a long time, so digesting it could happen where we are all the time was very cool,” said Nancy Terrell, CEO of the Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa.
In one video, they walk along a path near the club’s main entrance. In the other, the three walk through the parking lot and then take the path that leads to the popular Bob Jones Trail.
Fish & Wildlife says it appears to be a female with her two sub-adults.
“They are probably his offspring and it is a family unit that lives in this area,” explained Lt. Matt Gil of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They just haven’t been deported yet. They’re not quite that age, but they’re pretty big, so they’re probably about to be pushed out of the nest, so to speak.
Lt. Gil says more wildlife reports are coming in as more cameras go up.
“I wouldn’t say it’s rare to have mountain lions there,” Lt. Gil said. “There are deer. There are natural prey for them to eat and they are out there looking. One o’clock in the morning seems to be the timestamp in many of these videos, which is a normal time one would expect a mountain lion or a family unit of lions to be out there looking for food and maybe hunting. ”
Because cougars are generally nocturnal, usually on the move from sunset to sunrise, Chmelik is thrilled to have been able to observe them through technology.
“We use the Bob Jones Trail a lot with my kids. I also go to Pismo Preserve for daily hikes, really, and so I’ve never seen a mountain lion. I hope it stays that way, even though it’s amazing to see them on the video,” Chmelik said.
The club manager says the last time a mountain lion was seen around the property was when an employee saw one in their large swimming pool about ten years ago.
Fish & Wildlife adds that they have tethered mountain lions in San Luis Obispo and southern Monterey counties that they study, but those particular cats in the videos weren’t being tracked. Studies look at their journeys, how long they stay in certain areas, and what they eat.