How to avoid a Mountain Lion Attack

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?

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:

A Mountain Lion

  • 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!
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  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.

    • There are 2 piles of cougar scat in my backyard today…I live in very rural Washington state and have seen deer several times, coyote etc. I feel a bit shook up cougar are now sharing my yard too!

      • Marie – Washington is an open-carry state (so far) so buy yourself a reliable gun of at least 9mm and then take a safety course so you can use is correctly. Keep in mind that a biker was killed in WA state when he went riding in a state forest. He had no gun or any protection, which he should have.

    • Their world? Please knock off that usual spin. It is no more their world then mine. I am entitled to the great outdoors as much as he is. He wants to try and eat me, then may the best “man” win. He has claws, speed, and fangs, I have a 10mm. Fair fight, so no, it isn’t HIS home.

      • Nature is their world. You just recreate there. Wild areas are their only habitat. You human on the other hand can go anywhere. If they go beyond nature areas they’ll be killed. So get off your entitled high horse. When we all go into their habitat we assume the responsibility.

    • Ummmm no, it’s our world too, we didn’t invade this earth we were created here just like them, such an ignorant statement

    • “Their world” so just rollover and let them eat you. Humans are so detached from reality they have no idea how to survive on their own. We kill predators panzies. Get over it.

  2. 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!

    • That’s amazing, I’ve been doing research on mountain lions and found myself on this website and I remembered how mountain lion’s attack young kids because they think they’re small prey. I also agree on shooting the mountain lion if they lose the fear of humans. Have a great day, everyone.

    • When they are indulging in their prey they arent thinking about humans. You have somewhere else to go, they dont. Go somewhere else for a vacation.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    • Christopher – Sometimes the sprays don’t work, so it is a good idea to carry a pistol of at least 9mm if the other methods fail. I’m an animal lover and would hate to shoot anything, but when it comes to your own safety you cannot be too careful.

      • A firearm also makes a lot of noise. I’d prefer not to kill one either, but don’t be afraid to use it and firing near the animal. If that doesn’t scare it away, you know you’re in for a fight. It also alerts any nearby people that there is a problem.

  5. 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?

    • Notes about ski poles, hiking staffs, etc. Ace Hardware sells hoe handles made of heavy wood with steel sleeves at one end. They are not expensive and make excellent heavy-duty hiking staffs that can be used to fight off coyotes or lions.

  6. 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 crouch 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.

    • Angelcorr – Forget the hose. If your state allows open carry, take a good gun safety course and then buy a reliable pistol of not less than 9mm and carry it when you go outside. (I hope you don’t live in Communist California, which now forbids even open carry in dangerous areas).

  7. 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.

  8. About 5 years ago, I was going for a jog and saw a mountain once about 50 yards away. It was standing completely still, staring at me intently. The only thing moving was his tale, slowly swinging back and forth. I didn’t know much about them at the time and was just lucky that I decided to use my instincts. I stared at it first, trying to decide if I wanted to just keep jogging or not. I was on the dirt road and the lion was off the dirt road a bit up a little higher on a rocky mound. I decided to raise my hands and start yelling at him. He just stared back at me so I continued for about a minute with no luck. He never moved from his position, just kept his stance, slowly moving his tale back and forth. So, at that time, I decided to turn around and slowly walk in the opposite direction. I walked for about three minutes until I found a long two by four and started back, dragging it behind me. It made a fair amount of noise, dragging on the rocky dirt road and when I eventually got back to the spot where I had seen it, the lion was gone. I just went on home with the two by four dragging , about a quarter mile down the road. I never saw it again but I also never went jogging in that area again. Only later on, after having researched mountain lions, did I realize what danger I may have been in and what I did to avoid the situation. Using my instincts, waving my arms up in the air, yelling, maintaing eye contact and not panicking was actually the correct course of action.

    • Debbie – You are a strong woman, going jogging alone in mountain lion territory. In the future, get a carrying permit and take a pistol with you. Also carry a heavy hiking staff, which is inconvenient when jogging but will strengthen your arms. You are lucky you did not end up like that poor woman who went jogging in Auburn in Communist California and ended up being killed.

  9. I live in the Sierra foothills at the 2,000 foot level, lots of Oak, some manzanita, pine and hilly. We’re within a few miles of the big 400 square mile “Rim fire” of 2013, an have had more sightings of cougars since then. Lots of deer in our area, and homes are ¼-1 mile apart. Neighbors lost livestock to a young male cougar his year, which was trapped and removed by fish & game department. I run at night, with lots of light, and stay on the road. Have seen long low tan colored beasts in the brush at dusk, but never sure whether it’s just more deer, or mountain lions. They do hide their kill in piles of leaves, and whenever I run, and smell a dead dear near my trial I’m especially alert. I do cherish my night runs but continue to be watchful.

    • Jay – The DemoSocialist politicians recently eliminated the right of people to open carry in dangerous areas of CA (for whose benefit?)so you should carry a heavy staff when you go out into the bush. So far CA has not limited the length of hunting knives, so a long knife would also be a good addition. CA is swarming with mountain lions and they get bolder every year. Nevada still allows open carry, so far, which is good news for hikers and bikers.
      Amusing Note: When I was hiking around Lake Tahoe with my pistol on my belt a silly woman said “Why do you carry that? I’ve never seen a mountain lion while hiking.” Lady, you can be ten feet from a lion and never see it! Lions are masters of concealment.

  10. I grew up in the mountains so in school we were taught what to do in case we encountered a mountain lion and the main thing was to act bigger and be bigger and scream and if your with friends put them on your back to grow a few feet. I also grew up hearing stories of people’s animals being killed by mountain lions and the lions walking through town. So they are not afraid of people but they most likely won’t attack if you act tougher and bigger.

  11. I carry a fire arm with me when I hike or go camping and even horseback riding. I also like to wear a beanie with eyes on the back of my head. It make it less likely from being attacked from behind.

    • Some may scoff but Indians (diaper type) do this as defense against Tiger. Can’t hurt! Neither can a pistol, large knife and spray.

  12. I live here in Nevada and do a lot of hiking and biking. I have a CCW permit and always carry my pistol, especially when biking at night. California is stupid for not allowing people to have handgun carrying permits – they are vulnerable to attack, especially women. Look what happened to that female jogger in Auburn!

    • Torches work great as well take an old bandana and if your out lots collect a sap bundle from pine and put it in the bandana and heat the bandana up with sap ball until it bleeds through a bit and stick it on a stick that spooks them when you wave it in front of you talking firmly to it guarantee !! I always have one for just in case and be one with your surroundings i never carry guns only mace,knife,machette, and torch and i will pull my torch light it then grab my mace and knife at the same time

  13. This whole theory on its rare for cougars is a load of crap i live in the rockie mountains in British Colombia and i live in a tent and travel around everywhere and i have researched tracks and scat and am very familiar with what it looks like as well i have the worlds greatest companion my dog shes a cane corso and has a keen sense of smell and knows where they are at all times and in our spare time (which we have lots of) i point to scat or fresh prints saying whats that/find it and i guarantee damn near every second day come within reasonable distance of a panther/cougar/lion all the same thing and theese creatures are always around even in town! One day i was walking by 711 to get a slurpee and my dog cut her paw really bad so i got krazy glue and sealed her paw but she couldnt really walk and so i decided to set a quick lean to up against the back of a hotal and garbage and a huge rainfall came in then i hear a little girl sobing so i poke my head out and bam it came at us pulled our tarp right off staring at us like its next meal so i threw my big hikers backpack on and already had my dog tied to my waist and my machette in on hand and mace in the other and we slowly walked away and i just stared at it with such anger telling it not to fuck with my best friend or i will kill it and i surely ment it. But i think people are too unaware of what they walk right by between zig zaggy pushed down grass/kind of crescent or half circles continuosly also the scat with hair in it (just because its small poo pile doesnt mean a small cat, distinctive smell you only get when they are real close but if they dont want you to aee them even at 5′ away you wont! They are out there more than most of you pay attention dont be shy to take your time and watch your surroundings remember the scenerie and once and a while turn around and walk back the same way for 1/2/300 feet to see if anything changed and you might just be aurprised

    • Glad you have a real DOG first of all second I’m glad I’m not the only one that observing his surroundings. I have lived in Northern Michigan Ill tell you this I have seen big cats , and 200 plus lbs wolves coming from CANADA. folks on this site saying no DOG can help you if a mountain lion attacks they are wrong as TWO LEFT SHOES , my uncle still lives up that way I gave him some real dogs called Turkish Kangal’s two of them yes one of them locked with a big cat and gave him a fight to remember that was years ago , he now has three Caucasian Shepard’s Protecting his property

  14. Jesse/Kalika, is your last name Kalikack?
    Jesse left off the part when the grizzly appeared and charged them, causing the dog to bolt away sideways, but not before Jesse doused the grizzly with pepper spray as he simultaneously swung the machete with the other hand at the mountain lion coming at him from the other direction.

  15. Thanks for all the good info. I guess I need to get some pepper spray today. We live in Oregon. We caught 5, yes 5, mountain lions walking together on the trailcam very close to the house. Our property buts up to BLM land and a whole lot of mountains. I have to walk .5 miles into the woods to check our water. I see fresh “sign” left right where I just walked in but didn’t know what it meant. Will have to look that up too, what it looks like.

    • That reminds me of the trail cams 2 or 3 years ago showing groups of mountain lions congregating at night near water and laying down chilling. Before that it was thought they were solitary animals (except for the usual 2 week courting period & later mother with cubs only). The footages showed they can and do congregate around a common draw and tolerate each others presences. Reminds me of pics I’ve seen of alley cats all hanging out at night lol. With all the horrible wildfires increasing out west, causing all the wild life to have to flee and find new territory I wouldn’t be surprised if groupings occur more often. I saw a post about wildfires a year ago how all sorts of animals that normally would be avoidant or preying upon or be predated upon were seen fleeing close together ignoring each other because their focus was on fleeing to avoid the chaos thst the fires, humans and traffic caused.

    • Oregon is an open-carry state (for now, unless the Socialist politicians have their way) so it is a good idea to carry when hiking or biking, especially in remote areas of the state.

  16. A couple years ago my wife and I were hiking an 8 mile loop in the Superstition Mtn’s in AZ. After a tough climb we crested a ridge and met a lone woman hiker. She had been out for several hours doing the same loop we were, but from the opposite direction. We chatted for a minute and continued on our way. 50 yards later I found fresh, still wet lion scat on a large flat rock right in the middle of the trail. Another 100 yards, were fresh, lion tracks where the trail crossed a stream, coming toward us. The cat had obviously been following the woman.

    I suspect the cat moved off the trail when it saw two more people with the woman it was following. We probably walked right past it shortly after cresting that ridge where we had been talking to her.

    Edward Abbey does a nice job of recounting a lion encounter he had while walking Aravipa Creek in AZ.

  17. I was driving south on 101 just south of the klamath river near terwer in my van about 6:30 a.m. and was approaching a saddle back about a half mile between the front and back and a male bicyclist steaming up the hill ahead and his female counterpart triling about a half mile behind him and she was heading slowly downhill in the same direction. since i was driving, I past the woman cyclist and went about a quarter mile and noticed the man reaching the top of the hill and starting to disappear from view. as i reached the lowest elevation in the saddle suddenly a large gangly black bear came tearing into the road and freaked out when his paws hit the pavement. he rolled and spun around twice and tore like hell back into the dense redwood forest and disappeared. that lady cyclist was about one minute too slow oe the dagone bear would have mowed her right down . she never saw it and i didnt have the heart to slow down and tell the husband, i just figured , no harm, no foul. but it was exactly where that bike was gonna be had she been peddeling instead of coasting. people just dont seem to realise tthey can be eaten.

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