Friday, March 31, 2023

[UPDATE]The Redwood Valley Mountain Lion Saga Continues— Another Creature Enters the Scene— A Cub? A Fox? A Coyote?


Redwood Valley residents who live near the train tracks have been experiencing reoccurring sightings of the nocturnal apex predator in our parts: a mountain lion.

In the dark of Easter Eve, Chris Van Patten on East Road documented a cougar calmly striding through his property, gazing about. 

The footage clearly shows a tracking collar of some sort on the predator. We have reached out to Fish and Wildlife about the appearance of the collar and what that might mean as to which agency/entity is tracking the animal, but have yet to hear back.

The inky black, the quiet cougar, the early Easter morning [Picture provided by the resident in Redwood Valley]

Later that night, a game cam of another resident on East Road snapped a shot of what Van Patten thinks is the very same mountain lion his Ring camera captured just hours earlier. His theory is supported by a visible dark ring around the cougar’s next, which could be the collar clearly seen in his video footage. 

One of Van Patten’s cats and one of his neighbor’s dogs have been missing since that Easter Eve night.

In nature’s indefatigable ways, the saga of the Redwood Valley mountain lion continues. A cougar cub has entered the picture. Another creature has entered the scene

At approximately 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 23, 2022, another creature was recorded on the same path a juvenile mountain lion can be seen sniffing around the same area depicted in previous videos. There is a youthful pluck to its posture and it seems unphased by motion-activated lights Van Patten had recently installed to ward off the critter.

Just over one hour later, the same collared mountain lion triggered the mountain sensor camera. In contrast to previous footage, the cougar walks swiftly through the frame and can be seen disappearing into the darkness as motion sensor lights are triggered by its movement. 

Van Patten postulates the creature is a juvenile mountain lion that could be the offspring of the collared cougar. We have no way to determine that, and according to the relevant literature, the only reliable way to tell the difference between a male and a female mountain lion is their genitals. 

It’s worth noting, that mountain lions in general live solitary lives. There is a relevant exception: when mother mountain lions are rearing their cubs. When these cubs are born, they are both deaf and blind and as a result, mother mountain lions are very protective of their young.

Van Patten told us he has altered the settings on his cameras so that when the cougars come near they emit an audible alarm, he has cut back the taller grass on his property so the visitors have fewer areas to hide.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife has robust resources in place to support those of us that live the wildland-urban interface and experience these sorts of wildlife encounters. 

Complete the Fish and Wildlife’s Incident Reporting Tool if an actual human-wildlife conflict occurs and check out the Human-Wildlife Conflict Toolkit which offers the public essential information about the various wildlife one could encounter, CDFW’s goals in managing that wildlife, and strategies to mitigate conflict.

UPDATE: 6:07 a.m.: The original version of this article went with Van Patten’s identification of the smaller animal as a mountain cub, but enough readers have disagreed claiming the animal could be a coyote to a fox.

We do not know conclusively, so we’d like to open the conversation up to the community. Please, tell us what sort of critter we’re looking at and what makes you know.

The Saga of the Redwood Valley Mountain Lions



  1. Definitely a coyote.
    Tail is too bushy for a mountain lion.
    Body configuration is different than a mountain lion.
    Snout is more pointed than a mountain lion.
    Too tall for the foxes we have in Redwood Valley.

  2. The wildlife cameras are a new phenomenon. Wildlife, including cougars and bears, are not. These nocturnal creatures have always lived here, but we didn’t know it because we couldn’t see them. Suddenly there is concern about human and domestic animal safety, but the real concern should be for the wild creatures, suddenly exposed – and the resulting hysteria, which is guaranteed to be deadly for the wildlife. I am disappointed in MendFever for promoting this hysteria.

    • Hysteria? Reporting is the process of documenting occurrences around a community. In a rural area like ours, the interaction between humans and wildlife is both common and notable. Members of the community are intrigued and fascinated by nature in our midst. When I have a line of communication with a group of residents who are experiencing reoccurring visitations by animals, why wouldn’t I write about it? I offer resources to mitigate these experiences. I’m not sure I really understand why you are protesting, but from your vibe your mind is made up. That being said, I will always document human wildlife interactions in our county. It’s part of the experience of being a Mendocino County resident that is entirely a product of our unique geography.

  3. That first vid shows muzzle, fur “ticking”, tail, and overall shape of the native grey foxes I often observe at night in my south Ukiah valley backyard where they enjoy birdseed and peanuts the daytime birds miss plus feral blackberries in season. Delightful catlike little omnivorous canids.

  4. I agree with the grey fox ID. We also have them in Ukiah though they have not been around for a year or more. We had a great experience with one we saw under our oak tree, and I commented “I wonder if they can climb?” and at that exact moment the fox reached up into the tree with its front leg, grabbed a hold and swung up into the tree, kind of like a monkey. Yes, they can climb!

    • Great observation!!!! From what I have read they can climb quite high in trees and quietly snooze away the day out of sight.

    • The ticking on the coat (and more common occurance locally) is why a fewbof us say our native grey fox. red fox in any color phase don’t show ticking.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at if you know a story that needs to be told.

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