Sisson Elementary School students had their lunch recess cut short on Friday after someone reported seeing a mountain lion nearby.

Principal Sally Gasaway said MSPD officer Frank Goulart came in Friday afternoon and told the office staff that a mountain lion had been spotted across the street at the old radio station on Alma.

It was immediately decided to bring the children in from the playground for safety reasons, Gasaway said.

The school also had those children who were walking home after school go in groups, Gasaway said.

Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross said though officer Goulart searched for the animal, he was unable to locate it.

Friday’s incident was one of three recent reports of mountain lion sightings in the city. The other two occurred at Spruce Street and Alma and at the pond area behind Mercy Medical Center.

“We do live in mountain lion country,” Cross said. “If you see one, you should immediately call the police department. We’ll look into it, and if it’s deemed that public safety is threatened, we’ll make an exigent decision or call the Department of Fish and Game and get their opinion.”

Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare, according to the DFG. Statistically speaking, a person is 1,000 times more likely to get struck by lightning than be attacked by a mountain lion.

There have only been 16 verified attacks on humans in California since 1890, six of them fatal. The last documented attack occurred in January, 2007 in Humboldt County.

Though attacks are rare, if you do see a mountain lion, the DFG has a few guidelines to keep in mind.

• Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

• Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If there are small children there, pick them up so they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.

• Do not crouch or bend over. A human standing up is not the right shape for a lion’s prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal.

• Appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

• Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

To avoid mountain lions, the DFG provides the following tips:

• Don’t feed wildlife. By feeding deer, raccoons or other wildlife in your yard, you may inadvertently attract mountain lions, which prey on them.

• Deer proof landscape. Avoid using plants that deer prefer to eat. If landscaping attracts deer, mountain lions may be close by. You can also consider removing dense and/or low lying vegetation that would provide good hiding places for mountain lions, especially around children’s play areas.

• Keep pets secure. Roaming pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions. Either bring pets inside or keep them in a kennel with a secure top. Don’t feed pets outside, as this can attract raccoons and other mountain lion prey.

• Keep livestock secure. Where practical, place livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, and be sure to secure all outbuildings.