James Franco’s new film Yosemite is set in the mid-1980s when the internet was but an infant and the mountain lion population had bounced back from its near extinction due to over hunting. The film, told through the perspective of three fifth grade boys, is “a kind of Stand by Me for a modern generation.” Following the daily lives of the young boys the audience becomes immersed with their problems—a lost cat and crumbling friendship—and the “more important” issues also presented in the film—divorce and a family death—are left a little to the wayside.
The danger of the mountain lions really comes full force when the boys seek revenge for a missing, beloved pet, Charlie. Despite the ill-advised hunt, the boys find a handgun and head out to take down the responsible wildcat.
Although the film is rated “R” and may perk the ears of some while remaining all but inaudible to others, it does raise an important topic: although infrequent, mountain lions are a realistic threat. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there have been nine confirmed fatal mountain lion attacks since 1986. The most recent reported attack was in September 2014, and thankfully it was nonfatal. So we want to help and try to keep these numbers as low as possible.
In the event of a mountain lion encounter doing the following may help to keep you and your family safe:
First, make yourself look as big as possible. Open and spread your jacket, raise your arms and wave them slowly. If you’re in a group stand close together, be sure to reel in pets and pick up children.
Make noise! Yell, shout, bang a stick or stomp on the ground. Make whatever noise you can, as long as it does not resemble the sound of prey.
Don’t run—it can trigger a lion’s prey instinct. Instead, slowly create distance between you and the cat. Never turn away from the animal.
If attacked, fight back. Protect your neck and throat. Use anything and everything around you; rocks, jackets, tree branches, walking sticks, fanny packs.
A major theme of Yosemite is adventure, so have fun watching theirs and be sure to have one of your own, just safely.