How to avoid a Mountain Lion Attack

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mountain lionThe likelihood of ever having an encounter with a mountain lion is pretty low, but in case you ever come across one in the wild you should know what to do. 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?

  1. To avoid attacks, always keep children and teenagers close by. Mountain Lions are attracted to children, so don’t let them wonder to far away. Mountain lions see children as a small prey animal and are sometimes tempted to attack.
  2. Make noise when your 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.
  3. If you come upon a lion, give it plenty of space so it can escape. Make your self look Big and DO NOT RUN. The lion will more than likely leave without any kind of confrontation.
  4. If you are attacked FIGHT LIKE HELL! Unlike bear attacks, experts say that you should fight back when attacked by a Mountain Lion. Kick, Gouge its eyes, Hit it in the face, do anything you can to make the lion rethink its attack. If you try to pretend you are dead, a lion will more than likely keep attacking.
  5. Try to use Large sticks, rocks or any other weapon you can find to defend yourself.
  6. Stand your ground, stand tall, and pick up any children that are with you. Don’t ever try to run, doing so will kick in the animals natural hunting response. If you run it will chase!
  7. Bear Pepper Spray is also useful against mountain lions. If you have some, it can be sprayed at the lions nose and eyes.
  8. Never squat or bend over. Research shows that when a human bends over that mountain lions can mistake a person for a four-legged prey.

21 Responses to " How to avoid a Mountain Lion Attack " Please share your thoughts...

  1. Good advice – I always make sure the kids are making plenty of noise (not hard to do) on our hikes, and keep them from getting too far out in front (much harder to do!). I also keep an eye out for sign.

  2. rene says:

    very great advice! i hate hurting animals but it shouldn’t hurt the lion too bad :)

  3. adi0 says:

    yeah because youd rather die… dumbass.

  4. Prospector Joe says:

    After coming across this topic I just have to comment on the subject. I work and play, sometimes for extended periods, in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.

    Item 1; no brainer.

    Item 2; um, good idea I guess, mostly for bears though. Trust me, cougar doesn’t need bear bells and human vocals to know you are there!

    Item 3; If you see a cougar close up count yourself lucky! really? ya. Cats are ambush predators. You have likely been stalked on several occasions with out knowing. They don’t let you see them until it is to late. OR they present themselves to you to gauge your reaction. Run=Prey.

    Item 4; Fight like hell? You bet! Cats are mother natures calculators. If they are attacking they have decided that the gain of a meal outweighs the risk of injury to themselves. There for, they intend to eat you. Other reasons for attack may also be territorial. Especially if you take THEIR food, like hunting for game in their territory, makes you their competition and they may try to take you out for that reason. If you have to fight one I suggest a large (see Rambo) knife with a good grip, and NEVER GO DOWN! It may be the teeth and fore claws that scare us but cougars kill most often by tackling prey to the ground and disemboweling with very powerful hind legs/claws. Stay on your feet and you have a chance. NOTE: A long gun is useless, unless you carry military style (cocked locked and ready in hand) you just don’t have enough time in most attack cases. A handgun may be quick enough but here in Canada it requires a special permit to carry a handgun in the woods. Not everyone can get it, also not easy to get even if you qualify.

    I won’t add anything to the rest of the talking points cause it is common sense. But a few things have been overlooked. Travel in groups, NEVER ALONE. Minimum 2 but 3 or more is best. Cat won’t take you all on, bad math. Dog, unless trained to hunt cougar, is of no help. In fact even the largest most aggressive dogs are a nice snack. Seen it, not pretty. When in deep cat territory (150 to 250lb cats) we leave dogs at home now. And no your super stud mut won’t hear or smell the cat coming. For the ever more common (50 to 100lb)”urban cougar” however dog is a decent partner to have and highly recommended for joggers. Especially if you jog/walk the same route routinely.

    If you bleed, clean it up and take all blood with you. To a cat blood=injured prey. If you vomit same thing, might get away with burning it though. vomit=sickly prey. If you limp, try to hide it. They are keen to that too. Avoid crying, seems like a weird thing but have you ever heard a wounded rabbit or other small game? Sounds like lunch to a cat. That last one is more for children than say a full grown man. Don’t park your tent on the treeline. So many people do for wind/sun shelter, convenience of firewood or privacy for when nature calls. But if you are in cougar territory keep in mind cats keep to tree cover etc. If you are asleep 20ft from where they have been patiently waiting… has been known to happen. Camp in open area with good lines of sight. Avoid being alone, fetching wood/water should always be done in pairs. And yes, even bathroom breaks! You should be able to observe your partner from at least the shoulder up while they do their business. Seems odd I know but imagine that curious cat is waiting for such a prime opportunity like catching you with your pants down. Don’t be shy, you may live longer.

    Situational awareness is your best defense though. Are the birds chirping/squirrels chattering? Why not? Haven’t seen bear scat in a while/berries untouched? If not bear who is top predator in the area? Clear fresh cougar tracks cross your path? Chances are the cat has been following and is watching your reaction to his tracks at that very moment.

    Want to know more? Just watch a farm cat hunting. Now imagine that he is 20 times the size and 3 times as smart. Keep your head up and stay safe.


    • new to large cat area says:

      Wow, thank you to Prospector Joe for taking the time to share your extensive experience! It is the best advice I’ve found yet, and I am most grateful for it! I hope never to need it, but since I’ve just moved into their territory, it is good for me to know. Stay safe & Enjoy!

    • Mike says:

      In respect to #3… you do not see them unless they want you to see them or you stumble upon them.

      I have taught orienteering to scouts for years, and for one weekend we had a course created with a water crossing. The water level rose too much during the week between setup and event, so it was modified without the river crossing. I went to get the markers on the other side of the river and when I returned, there were cat prints the size of my fist with a 30 inch stride that were not there when I crossed the first time.
      A) I know I was being watched;
      B) I’m glad the kids were not doing that section of the course after seeing that big cat print!

    • Ken says:

      Thank you for your advice and knowledge. Wife and I hike/camp in outback’s of Florida and Georgia. We have seen lion tracks in both areas, we will heads up your advice. Again, can’t thank you enough!!!

  5. SeldomSeen says:

    First I urge every one to remember that you are in their world!

    • Mike says:

      That’s odd… their world appears to be our world whenever I see them or hear about them in the news.

  6. Nicole says:

    Thanks to all for the advice. I feel that I have left myself vulnerable to a cougar (actually two). I have been ill for about a year and was planning to work up at a camp (which I did for two weeks). There was a sighting of a cougar a few years ago but I thought it left or got shot. Well, apparently, it was still there. After a few days at camp, I was walking alone in the pitch black dark and I started having a feeling that the lion was still there, so I squared my shoulders and stopped walking with a limp (I injured my foot a few yrs. before). I had a long way to go so I just prayed to God that this wouldn’t be my last night.
    Finally I got to my room but still had the weird feeling of being watched…
    A couple days later I was walking behind our cabin to go to another cabin to do my laundry and I looked behind it where there are many trees and a creek. What a perfect place for a mountain lion! Later that night I was alone again and started walking across the bridge to get in my cabin. Then I heard light footsteps following me across the bridge. I didn’t know what it was but the creature was stalking me. Again I squared my shoulders and kept my normal pace. It surely was following me especially when I was two feet from the door… I opened the door and flew in!
    I had no idea what it was until I left and went home due to being too sick to work. So after I left…a deer was killed behind the cabins that I was staying in and in front of people!!! This mountain lion is definitely NOT scared of people especially when they were trying to scare it away from people and away from its meal…
    It didn’t click until later about what was probably stalking me and that’s when I started searching about what to do when encountering a mountain lion and I thank you all for your advice!!!! I’m thinking they should shot it. Forget about those lions being protected, when they lose their fear of humans, all bets are off!

  7. Nicole says:

    Sorry, I forgot to add that when I was on the bridge I heard its footsteps BELOW crossing the creek. It was following me. I just thank God nothing happened and that I left before it got another chance of studying me or even an encounter.
    Do you all think that if a mountain lion doesn’t mind people seeing it, it should be shot? It’s already been seen more than twelve times and shot at with rubber bullets. Even then it didn’t run away so fast.

  8. sharon says:

    great advice i live in the country so i have seen a mountain lion

  9. Christopher says:

    I don’t know if this has been said or not, but I bring pepper spray on hikes. If you come upon a mountain lion, do the above techniques, but you can also spray the the area between you and the lions. If there is an attack, spray the lion directly. This works for bears as well. Research the type of sprays to use as there are sprays specially made for use on animals. Hope this helps. Cheers.

  10. fortified says:

    I go trail running in Griffith Park… night. Their is one lion (p-22) that has been caught,tagged, and re-released there. The last report is that it looks very well fed. I see deer and other animals such as coyote’s, rabbits and others every single time I go. So although I am doing everything wrong….but at perhaps the least likely place. The only thing I have with me is my ski pole which I usually have pointing up and back away from my neck area, just in case. What are the odds the one well fed lion will want me? and oh yeah. The area is well traveled everyday by others during the day? Anyone?

  11. angelccorr says:

    I live in Mountain lion territory. We have several who come around. While sitting on my porch at dusk, I discovered that a lion was on the other side of our fence watching my grandson play on the porch next to me. I wasn’t sure at first what type of animal it was, so I walked to the steps of the porch to get a close look. The lion didn’t move away, but continued to crowch by the fence, even though I must have looked large due to standing at the top of the steps. I think the reason the lion did not come into the yard to attack my grandson was because of my close proximity to him. Of course, I scooped up my grandson and went into the house. Unfortunately, I forgot that my cat was out that night, and since I never saw him again, I figured he has been taken by the Mountain lion. Several of my neighbors have had their pets go missing, so now I always go outside with my dog to protest her. If I ever have to deal with a Mountain lion again, I plan to turn the hose on it, hoping it will scare it away.

  12. angelccorr says:

    Sorry for the misspelled words.

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    • Angie says:

      I bet these would work very well if you are outside. I was attacked in my house, thankfully I had my dog and
      she chased it out before it got its teeth in me. Also a little different when it is a hungry, sick Cougar compared to a healthy one.

  14. someoneyou dont know says:

    im only 12 years old and small for my age at that and i was wondering if anyone has advice on what a child like me should do if a mountain lion confronts me.i know i should never hike alone and stay with my parents and i will but anything can happen so advice would be awesome.

  15. someone you dont know says:

    i mean like if i ever end up alone somewhere ,somehow

  16. someone you dont know says:

    im asking because im pretty sure im too small to scare it off no matter what i do

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