How to Prevent and Survive a Mountain Lion Attack

 


cougarMountain Lions are quite elusive animals and trail encounters with them are rare. They generally are reclusive and avoid making any contact with humans. While it would be amazing to spot one in the wild we must keep our safety in mind, because mountain lions are carnivores that have killed people in the past.

The secretive mountain lion is also popularly referred to as a cougar. Their lesser used aliases are: catamounts, ghost cats, panthers or pumas. These mountain cats are primarily nocturnal and are most active at dusk/dawn, which is one reason why hikers rarely see them. Pair that with the fact that they prefer terrain less traveled by people... spending their time in areas with rocky and rugged terrain, dense vegetative cover or even in swamps.


How Big of a Threat are Mountain Lions?

  • Mountain Lion populations are increasing in some areas.
  • Like any wild animal their actions are often unpredictable.
  • Full grown cougars are powerful predators and can weigh close to 200 pounds.
  • They stalk their prey and can quickly attack from behind and kill with a bite to the neck.
  • Attacks on humans are extremely rare. In about the last 100 years there have only been about 100 nonfatal attacks and 18 deaths from cougar attacks.

Preventing Problems with Mountain Lions

  • Hike with a friend. Attacks are less likely in a group.
  • Don't let small children wander off the trail unattended. Keep kids in the middle or front of your group to prevent a cougar ambush from the rear.
  • Avoid areas with freshly killed animals... cougars often stash kills to eat later and will defend their meal.
  • Leave the area immediately if you come across cougar kittens. Like bears, mountain lions will defend their young.
  • Dogs can attract or invite cougar attacks. Leave them at home.

Surviving Close Encounters

mountain lion
  • Do not run away. This may trigger an attack.
  • Never turn your back to a lion.
  • Maintain constant eye contact.
  • Make loud noises, yell, wave your arms.
  • Make yourself look bigger with your clothing or other objects.

What To Do If Attacked

  • Do not play dead.
  • Protect your neck and try to remain standing.
  • Fight back using your hands, legs, or anything else that could be used as a weapon.
  • Using pepper spray may stop an attack.

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