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Do's and Don'ts While Interacting with Mountain Lions in the Wild

Updated on June 15, 2014

Mountain Lion Cougar

Mountain Lion in the Wild; they like to hunt deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses, and sheep.  It sometimes goes after insects and rodents too.
Mountain Lion in the Wild; they like to hunt deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses, and sheep. It sometimes goes after insects and rodents too.
Mountain Lion (Cougar) up close.  These creatures are nocturnal and reclusive.  They will avoid people.  However, as our lives begin to encroach on their habitat, their has been a rise in sightings and also attacks on humans.
Mountain Lion (Cougar) up close. These creatures are nocturnal and reclusive. They will avoid people. However, as our lives begin to encroach on their habitat, their has been a rise in sightings and also attacks on humans.

Mountain Lion Sightings

Mountain Lions (also called Cougars) roam free range on the West Coast of the United States. They are reportedly extinct on the East Coast. However, there are reported sightings of Mountain Lions as far East as upstate New York. Officially, they do not exist and yet there is a certain group of people that believe the government is trying to hide a reintroduction of Mountain Lions in the East.

Most of the time, mountain lions will leave you alone and you will never see them. Rarely do they attack humans. But they do attack and there is a legacy of stories that come out of these attacks.

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Characteristics of Mountain Lion Attacks

When a Mountain Lion attacks its prey, it does so with the intent to take its prey by surprise and kill it instantaneously before a struggle starts. Mountain Lions go for the throat of their prey. Mountain Lions, although big and powerful, do not heal well when they are injured. Getting wounded in an attack on their prey can be a matter of life and death to them. So they will generally not attack if they instinctively perceive that the cost of getting their prey will be too high. These are important things to know about mountain lions before you ever come into contact with them in the wild.

Walk into most parks on the West Coast of the United States and you will see cautionary information about Mountain Lions.
Walk into most parks on the West Coast of the United States and you will see cautionary information about Mountain Lions.

Do's and Don'ts When You See a Mountain Lion

If you see a mountain lion, DO NOT run. Running will trigger a mountain lion's chase instinct. Think about what a dog does when a car drives off. Mountain Lion's are the same. They will chase and they will in all likelihood outrun you and kill you. DO talk loud, make loud noises, and make yourself look as big as possible and act threateningly; throwing objects you can find. DO this while backing away from the Lion slowly, but DO NOT at any time take your eyes off the Lion or bend or crouch down.


What to do if you are attacked by a Mountain Lion

If a Mountain Lion attacks you, you must stay and fight. It is your only real chance for survival. Your best chance of survival is to wound a mountain lion. If you wound the lion, he may back off. It helps to have a knife around when traveling in the wild for a purpose like this. At all times, you must protect your neck, throat, and head areas because this is where the Mountain Lion instinctively likes to target.

Mountain Lions Attack when they think they can Kill Their Prey Without Being Injured

There are a lot less stories of successfully fighting off a mountain lion, then there are of Mountain Lion attacks. So you should know that even the above is simply the best hypothetical knowledge we have about Mountain Lions at this time. It is generally thought, if the Mountain Lion becomes wounded enough in the fight, it may dig in and decide to fight to the death. So while you hope that wounding the mountain lion will cause it to back off, you need to prepared for a fight to the death. If a mountain lion gets wounded enough, it may realize instinctively it is going to die and fight you to death out of anger.

The best thing to DO when traveling in nature is to go in a group. Mountain Lion attacks typically occur on individuals or couples. Mountain Lions do not like to attack big groups of people because it would consider its chances of survival to be significantly reduced.

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    • greenhealthguru profile image
      Author

      greenhealthguru 4 years ago

      Experience increases responsiveness. This includes experience with other animals. Start with some black bear encounters. Those are relatively easy. And then the idea of facing off the cougar will not be so scary. Always remember, animals are a lot like people in that they are fear reactive. The animal is just as afraid of you as you are of him. But you've got the brains, he doesn't.

    • pringoooals profile image

      Karina 4 years ago from Edinburgh

      I like your advice. I think it is not easy though to put it in action. I think if I would see the montain lion I would just freeze. Thank you for sharing!