Mountain lions are among nature’s most gorgeous creatures, but they are also among its most lethal. These sly hunters, also known as cougars, pumas, and panthers, may be found in every western state, as well as parts of the Midwest and Florida.
If you’re going camping or trekking in mountain lion territory, you should know how to avoid and survive an attack. Fortunately, the majority of mountain lion encounters are not fatal. They are, however, powerful wild animals, and their strength and senses make them a formidable natural threat that must be taken seriously. Here’s how to avoid being attacked by a mountain lion.
What Are Mountain Lions?
Cougars are fiercely territorial, especially young males, and will travel hundreds of kilometers to create their own territory and hunt food. Due to a lack of adequate habitat, free-roaming mountain lions frequently make their way into residential areas, where food is easier to come by. According to 2016 research conducted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 52 percent of mountain lions killed through state-funded depredation had eaten household animals such as cats and dogs. If you live in cougar territory, keep your pets—and their food—inside at night.
Because mountain lions have no natural predators other than other members of their own species, state management agencies must rely on hunting to keep populations under control. However, as hunting rules for cougars become more stringent, it has been easier for these predators to expand their range into metropolitan areas where they are mainly undesired.
Indeed, according to Wikipedia’s list of cougar attacks in North America, many of the attacks in the last half-century have occurred near residences, roads, state parks, and even schools.
What to Do in the Event That You Encounter a Mountain Lion?
Most of the time, you won’t know you’ve been attacked by a mountain lion until it’s too late. They are skilled and silent stalkers. If you spot them, they can be intrigued and checking to see if you’re a good prey.
Do not run or turn your back if you see a mountain lion. Both of these motions are comparable to those of prey. You want to demonstrate that you are not prey and that you cannot outrun a mountain lion, which can run up to 50 mph.
Instead, try the following:
- Waving your arms or bag makes you appear scary and large. Make a lot of noise.
- If you have trekking poles, wave them in front of your face.
- Make use of an air trumpet.
- If a mountain lion approaches, use bear spray.
- Approaching, cornering, or intimidating it can only make matters worse.
Mountain lions will consume and attack anything, even mice and deer. Mountain lions only eat meat and can consume up to 10 pounds per day. If you spot a mountain lion, please notify a ranger. If you are able, call them right away or as soon as you can get to a phone or ranger station.
It makes little difference as to why the cougar attacked; the fact remains that incidents of this kind are incredibly uncommon and shouldn’t cause the average person who enjoys being outside to feel unduly concerned. However, this does not absolve you from the responsibility of making appropriate plans for how you will behave and respond in the event that you find yourself in a scenario analogous to the one that Sederbaum and Brooks encountered.
1. Always have bear spray on hand.
You should always have a can of bear spray linked to your belt or a chest strap at all times. Purchasing a can of high-quality bear spray is a wise investment if you plan on going bicycling. Keep this within arm’s reach at all times so that you can use it as a close-range deterrent. Its effectiveness is maximized at a distance of 25 feet.
2. Hike in Groups
Make enough noise to prevent a cougar from being caught off guard. If you feel that your group is under danger, you should stand close together so that you look larger and more menacing. Children should not be allowed to wander too far from the rest of the group.
3. Don’t Hike After Dark
Cougars have vision that is up to six times greater than that of humans in low-light environments. They are most active in the early morning and late evening hours, when their natural prey is active and walking around.
4. Maintain a Tidy and Clean Camp
It is important to keep all food, food scraps, and rubbish contained in an airtight container so that mountain lions, which may be in need of a meal, do not become interested in the food. Don’t even think about bringing food inside your tent, no matter what you do.
5. Keep your distance from deceased animals.
Mountain lions kill a deer or elk once every nine to twelve days, eating what they can and storing the rest for later consumption. Therefore, if you see something that is dead, you should admire it from a distance because a cat might be napping nearby.
6. Don’t Run
When you first become aware of a mountain lion, you should immediately come to a complete stop and avoid making any rapid movements. This will prevent you from activating the cat’s natural inclination to go after its prey.
7. Always Keep a Close Eye on the Object of Your Observation
Keep an eye on the cat at all times, and don’t let it out of your sight until you are certain that it is okay for you to leave the area.
8. Become a Powerful and Terrifying Force in Your Environment
Your objective is to not be seen as a potential meal, but rather as a formidable adversary who must be taken into account. Shout. Scream. You should wave your arms. Toss some rocks. Make a scene and don’t stop until you’ve driven the mountain lion away with your antics.
9. Put Up a Fight
Find anything within reach that can be used as a weapon, such as a rock, knife, or even a pen. If you don’t have any weapons, use your fists to attack the mountain lion. Hit the animal in the head with everything you have, focusing on its eyes. The longer you can battle the animal, the more likely it will believe you are not good prey. Face the beast with bear spray.
Your sole concentration should be on survival and combat. Remember that humans have survived mountain lion attacks, and you can as well. Never give up! If you end up behind the animal, you can also try to choke it. If your companion is being assaulted, you should apply the same principles.
10. Remain Active and on Your Feet
The cougar is known for its distinctive hunting technique, which consists of dragging its prey’s legs behind it before administering the fatal bite to the neck. Do everything in your power to maintain your balance and continue the struggle.
Survival Gear for Mountain Lion Attacks
If you are terrified of a mountain lion attack, there are several things you can do to prepare yourself and your gear. Attach bear spray and a straight-bladed knife to your backpack for easy access and use.
Purchase an air horn from a maritime supply or hardware store and keep it in a convenient location. The greatest approach to avoid being attacked by a mountain lion is to avoid being attacked in the first place. So stay alert and learn how to spot signals of their existence.
How to Avoid a Mountain Lion Attack?
Mountain lions can live anywhere they have access to prey, but they are most commonly found in the western United States and Canada. I’ve never seen one in person, but I’ve certainly seen proof of them. Their average range is 30 square miles, so even if you see proof, they may have vanished.
Expect to find them anywhere, including deserts and mountains. A normal ranger station will publish about mountain lion sightings or signs and try to spread the information. This does not guarantee that you will encounter one on the route, but as previously stated, it is wise to be prepared. When and if you notice evidence of a mountain lion in your vicinity, get your hiking poles and bear spray or an air horn.
The likelihood of you becoming involved in a mountain lion attack is quite low. In fact, you are more likely to be hit by a deer or bitten by a dog than to be attacked by one of these enormous animals.
Nonetheless, you should be prepared for an encounter, if not an attack, from these beasts, especially if you are trekking or backpacking in places where they are known to exist. Finally, being prepared for an interaction is preferable to being unprepared for it.