Even though mountain lion encounters aren’t extremely common, they do happen. If you spend a lot of time in the wilderness, and live in a mountain lion’s backyard, then it might be worth learning what to do if you encounter a mountain lion. It also wouldn’t hurt to learn a few tips that can prevent mountain lion encounters altogether.
So in this article, we’ll just give you a few pointers and tips for when it comes to mountain lion encounters.
What to do if you encounter a mountain lion
1. Don’t Travel Alone
When using trails for hiking, running, biking or walking, don’t travel alone. Groups of people make more noise, alerting the mountain lion to your presence and increasing the chance they will avoid you.
2. Watch Pets and Small Children
Be sure to keep a close eye on small children and do not let them wander away from you. Keep dogs and other pets on a leash and close to you. Don’t let them run off trail or into foliage and out of sight.
3. Avoid Dusk & Dawn
Keep your outdoor activities between mid-morning and late afternoon. Mountain lions are most active during dawn, dusk and after dark.
4. Do No Approach
If you spot a mountain lion, do not approach it. Give them plenty of space to be able to turn around and run away, they often do not want a confrontation.
5. Make Yourself Big
Do not bend over, crouch or sit down. Squatting down makes you look much more like a small prey animal. Make yourself look as big as possible. Stand up tall, wave your arms over your head, open up your jacket if you have one.
6. Don’t Run
Running can trigger their instinct to chase and attack. Don’t even turn your back if possible, back away slowly while facing them and making yourself look big. Pick up and hold small children.
7. Make Noise
Don’t be shrill or scream…but use a calm loud voice.
8. Fight Back
Throw rocks if necessary. If you are attacked, fight back. Use rocks, sticks, anything sharp or heavy that you can reach. Try and stay standing if possible, and protect your head and neck if on the ground.
Knowing simple preventative measures and understanding their behaviors will greatly increase your safety. Call 911 if you see or are involved in an attach. Report the incident to your local fish and wildlife office.
Where most cougar encounters occur
Cougars are most common out west in California, Arizona, and Colorado. So it makes sense that most human and mountain lion encounters take place in these areas.
Cougar related deaths
There have only been 16 recorded deaths from cougar attacks in the last 50 years. 5 of those occurred in the last 20 years in the states of Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and California. There were a couple of cougar deaths in Colorado in the 90s.
Aside from a cougar attack in Kentucky on March 1, 1904 that killed a young child, I can find no record of any cougar related deaths in the eastern half of the United States.