The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) says that residents of Escazú canton, west of San José, have reported seeing a puma near populated areas in recent nights.
While rare, the sighting “is not cause for alarm,” SINAC says, “since the presence of these animals in the area is possible because the Central Valley is surrounded by rural areas and Protected Wildlife Areas.”
Pumas might enter residential areas through riverbanks, coffee plantations or parks while hunting other animals, SINAC says. They are not typically dangerous to humans and prefer to travel unnoticed.
If you see the animal, report it immediately to SINAC, the agency says.
SINAC recommends taking the following steps if you see a wild cat in an urban area:
- Keep calm. Remember, they are not typically dangerous to humans.
- Contact a local authority (SINAC, fire fighters, police, the municipality). It is important that the authorities are informed and can follow up on the situation.
- Do not try to photograph it, follow it, corner it, scare it with sounds or sudden movements, or throw objects at it. These actions may compromise your safety and that of the wild cat. Remember that in urban areas, these animals are only in transit.
- Stay inside your home or vehicle until you are sure that the animal has left the area. Also, keep your pets inside the house and not in the yard.
- Maintain a communication channel between members of your community in order to keep abreast of the situation. Avoid spreading alarmist messages.
- Properly dispose of garbage in order to avoid attracting wild animals, which in turn can attract wild cats.
“Remember that sightings of wild cats in urban areas are possible but isolated, very rare and momentary,” SINAC says. “They are part of our natural environment and the richness of our biodiversity. Remember to always respect them.”
In March, SINAC released into wild a puma that had been caught in Tibás.
Pumas and jaguars both live in Braulio Carillo National Park, located less than 10 miles north of Tibás.