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3 mountain lions spotted on surveillance video in Avila Beach

mountain lion avila bay club.JPG
Posted at 4:28 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 22:07:00-05

Three mountain lions were caught on camera wandering outside the Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa this week.

The club posted a couple of videos of the large cats on YouTube and to social media capturing the attention of locals.

“I was actually rewinding because I thought, ‘Am I just seeing things at this point?’” questioned Andrea Chmelik of Pismo Beach. “It was shocking. It was amazing.”

The club caught the trio just after one on Tuesday morning with the help of two brand new cameras.

“It happened many years ago but we haven't seen any in a long time so just digesting that could happen right where we are all the time was very cool,” said Nancy Terrell, Avila Bay Athletic Club & Spa General Manager.

In one video, they’re walking along a pathway near the front entrance to the club. In the other, the three are walking through the parking lot and then take the path down to the popular Bob Jones Trail.

Fish & Wildlife says it appears to be a female with her two sub-adults.

“They're probably her offspring and it's a family unit that's living in that area,” explained Lt. Matt Gil of the Department of Fish & Wildlife. “They just haven't been pushed out yet. They’re not quite at that age but they're pretty large in size so they're probably getting pretty close to getting pushed out of the nest, so to say.”

Lt. Gil says more reports of wildlife are coming in as more and more cameras go up.

“I wouldn't say it's rare to have mountain lions there,” Lt. Gil said. “There's deer. There's natural prey for them to eat and they're out there looking for it. At one o'clock in the morning, it appears to be the time stamp in a lot of those videos, which is a normal time we would expect a mountain lion or family unit of lions to be out there looking for food and possibly hunting.”

With mountain lions typically being nocturnal, usually out and about from sunset to sunrise, Chmelik is thrilled she got to check them out thanks to technology.

“We use the Bob Jones Trail quite a bit with my kids. I also go to Pismo Preserve for hikes daily, really, and so I have never seen a mountain lion. I hope that will remain so, although it's incredible to see them on the video,” Chmelik said.

The club manager says the last time a mountain lion was spotted around the property was when an employee saw one at their big pool about ten years ago.

Fish & Wildlife adds that they have mountain lions collared in San Luis Obispo and southern Monterey counties that they’re studying but these particular cats in the videos were not being tracked. The studies delve into their paths, how long they stay in certain areas and what they’re eating.