Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | April 22, 2021

Mountain Lion at my Door

Up early, I had an arm-load of things to put in my car. I stepped out of our house and the door shut behind me. That is when I locked eyes with this lion walking toward the cat dish. The cowboy had been out a few minutes prior and let ‘Mousetrap’ out of the garage for breakfast. We recently had seven cats, but now down to one. I’m thinking this lion was looking for her last quick breakfast from this litter.

All I’ve learned and practiced for meeting up with a lion, vanished. I knew I should put my arms up and R O A R! Well, everything in my mind went into slow motion. My arms were full. I knew I could drop everything but when I opened my mouth, I just froze. The poor lion wasn’t fazed. After all, it was 7:15 am and I didn’t have my makeup on. That must have been a very scary sight for her to see. She turned and walked through the carport as I was fumbling to get back in the house.

My husband was sitting by the fire and all I could say was ‘LION’. Suddenly, he was young again, running to see the lion walk past the bedroom window, just a few feet away. I stood at my desk while the lion sauntered down the bank on one of the best sled runs on the mountain and past the wood splitter where our four grandkids are often working on their firewood business. You can see the kick balls on the ground where the children had been playing the day before.

She wasn’t in a hurry so I ran out on the patio and took this pic of her walking across the orchard. She calmly took her well-worn path up the bank, carefully crossed the road and was off, for now.

Most of you know our four grandkids live on their ranch next door. They have lost many cats, chickens, and some ducks to the lions. They do have livestock guardian dogs that often bark, much to the dismay of the neighbors. The Sunday before me being face-to-face with the lion, the grandkids had friends visit. Three more little kids joined our four at play right there, inches from where the lion greeted me a couple days later. My husband said something about the children being lion bait as the 6 little kids they went up the trail to the ranch. I sure hope that never comes true and you can bet they won’t be using the trail again anytime soon.

Our oldest stayed behind and I took her home at dusk. As I was letting her out, the dogs were barking. I drove away and there was a lion, casually walking through. Not seeming to be bothered by the barking dogs at all.

Last night our family arrived home to see a lion right next to the horse correl. Heidi, our daughter-in-law said the lion stared them down for about 2 minutes before getting bored and wandering off. No fear, very confident and as Heidi said, their youngest son is about the size of most deer. It is always hard when we loose these animals but loosing any child on this mountain to a lion is unthinkable.

If you’d like to report your experiences, here is the link I was given by Fish and Game: Wildlife Incident Reporting System — Home

Over the years I’ve posted about lions on Palomar Mountain News. Now I could post photos and experiences about once a week. The lion population is rapidly growing. Some of the comments I’ve seen are from city folks seeing lions close by. Yes, population is growing and can be pretty dangerous.

Two of our neighbors have trail cams that often include lions. Here is one from a couple days ago:

Be careful when you open your door!

Bonnie Phelps


  1. Obviously down on East Grade where I live with, 100k acres of National Forest behind me I have a lot of encounters with lions. I think as long as the deer population holds adult people don’t have too much to worry about, generally. Two things though; with drought seemingly constant and with the lion population growing, the deer population is dwindling. Secondly, I do believe that children are at risk. Most of the attacks in So Cal now are directed towards children, even with adults present. It’s an easy risk benefit calculation for a lion. Any attractants like water troughs, food for turkeys or salt for deer, anything you do to encourage wildlife, you will encourage predators. So think carefully before you do that. And always have a means to defend yourself and your children. A game warden told me that it’s not the lion you see you have to worry about, it’s the lion you don’t.

    Frank McCarthy

    • Great comments Frank. Yes, it is the lion you don’t see that is so dangerous. This lion is frequently scouting his territory and is extremely dangerous, in my opinion. Lions apparently attack deer from the back of the neck – like one did with the 4 year old, walking in the middle of the day with 11 people in Scripps Ranch.

  2. Bonnie, you mind if I run the story of your near mountain lion encounter in the paper?


    David D. Ross Editor The Roadrunner 760-749-1112 (office) 760-638-0552 (cell)

    David Ross has been in the newspaper business for 40 years, both editing and writing.

    “I can handle big news and little news. And if there’s no news, I’ll go out and bite a dog.”


    • Of course Dave. Fish and Game used to offer to trap them on your property if they were bothering your wildlife. Now apparently there are far too many to do that. So there is a box to check if you want permission to defend yourself and animals. (Nothing is said about protecting children).

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