The likelihood of ever having an encounter with a mountain lion is pretty low, but in certain wilderness areas, the possibility does exist so you should know what to do if you come across one in the wild. With the growing popularity of outdoor sports like mountain biking and hiking, wild animal encounters are on the rise. So what should you do if you encounter a Mountain Lion?
Be especially careful when hiking or camping with children in known mountain lion territory.
- Always keep children and teenagers close by.
- Mountain Lions are attracted to children, so don’t let them wander too far away.
- Mountain lions see children as a small prey animal, which can sometimes tempt them to attack.
Awareness is your most powerful weapon.
Situational awareness is your best defense from being attacked and is the only way to ensure your safety in the wilderness.
- Are the birds chirping? Are squirrels chattering? If you stop hearing animal noises you need to ask yourself why. What’s in the area that these animals see as a threat?
- Be on the lookout for fresh cougar tracks or signs of scat. This is especially important anytime you see fresh tracks over areas that you’ve already walked on. This is a surefire sign that you’re being tracked and stalked.
- Never squat or bend over while in mountain lion territory. Research shows that when a human bends over, mountain lions can mistake them for a four-legged prey animal.
Making Noise can actually help.
If you’re walking in an area where there’s a probability of there being mountain lions in the area, the last thing you want to do is be completely silent. Some people mistakenly think that silence will protect them from these types of predators; it won’t. If you’re in an area with a Mountain Lion, chances are it already knows your there so silence isn’t really going to help.
- Make noise when you’re hiking, this will help ensure that you don’t walk up on an unsuspecting lion.
- If a Mountain Lion hears you approaching, more often than not it will slip away into the brush to avoid a confrontation.
If you come upon a lion, give it plenty of space so it can escape.
The chances of just happening upon a cougar are actually extremely low. These cats are ambush predators; you will very rarely see them until it’s too late. That being said, if you do come upon one, make sure you give it space and NEVER EVER RUN!
- Running kicks in the cat’s natural hunting instincts.
- If you run, you’re probably going to die. These cats see running as a sign that you are the prey; they will follow, and they will attack. Stand your ground, stand tall, and pick up any children that are with you.
- If they do present themselves to you, they may be trying to size you up and see how you react. Stand strong, and make yourself look as big as possible. There’s still a pretty good chance the cat will leave without any kind of confrontation.
If you are attacked, FIGHT LIKE HELL!
Unlike bear attacks, experts say that you need to fight back when attacked by a Mountain Lion. Kick, Gouge its eyes, Hit it in the face, and do anything you can to make the lion rethink its attack.
- Once a lion has decided to attack, they have already decided that the gain of a meal outweighs the risk of injury to themselves. You need to Fight Back, they intend to eat you.
- NEVER GO DOWN! It may be the teeth and fore claws that scare you, but cougars most often kill by tackling prey to the ground and disemboweling them with very powerful hind legs/claws.
- If you travel through these areas, a handgun is probably the best tool you can have at your disposal during an attack.
- If you don’t have a weapon close at hand, find anything in the area that can be used as a weapon and use it to fight back.
- Bear Pepper Spray is also useful against mountain lions. If you have some, it should be sprayed at the lion’s nose and eyes.
Additional tips and safety precautions when traveling in Mountain Lion Territory:
- Travel in groups, NEVER ALONE.
- Consider taking a dog. While a dog is no match for a 150 to 250lb cat, it can buy you some time. There’s a pretty good chance the cat will probably go after the dog first.
- When camping, Avoid being alone. Fetching wood/water should always be done in pairs. And yes, even bathroom breaks!