Mountain lions are some of nature’s most majestic creatures, but they can also be some of nature’s most dangerous. Also referred to as cougars, pumas, and panthers, these stealthy hunters can be found in every western state, in portions of the Midwest, and in Florida. If you’re planning on camping or hiking in mountain lion country, it’s important to know how to avoid and survive an attack. Fortunately, most mountain lion encounters are non-fatal. However, they’re still powerful wild animals, and their strength and senses make them a formidable natural threat you should take seriously.
Know Where Mountain Lions Roam
When it comes to finding mountain lions, there are many places you can go. Check out this excellent resource on the U.S. Forest Service website: By visiting these spots, you can greatly increase your chances of survival if you run into a mountain lion. First and foremost, you should be aware of the proper terms and places to go looking for mountain lions. When you’re out looking for them, you should avoid areas with a lot of vegetation. Even on heavily forested land, mountain lions tend to do their best hunting near homes or other human-made structures. Additionally, mountain lions can be found in parks and other locations where they’re considered less of a threat. Likewise, mountain lions tend to avoid roads. Don’t go anywhere near roads, drive slowly, and be alert at all times.
How to Avoid Mountain Lions
Lion behavior can be hard to predict. Many attacks are the result of an animal getting spooked while roaming through an area with a small amount of prey (like deer). If you see a mountain lion, do your best to show no fear and not run or give any attention to it. If it shows interest in you, back away slowly while maintaining eye contact. To scare it away, make loud noises and clap your hands, throw sticks, branches, rocks, or other objects, or wave your arms and yell. If you can’t escape by staying quiet, the most important thing to remember is to try not to surprise the lion by running. Running with your hands in the air or completely covering your face can greatly increase your chances of being killed.
What to do if You Encounter a Mountain Lion
If you come across a mountain lion, you should try to stay calm, and act aggressively if the animal attacks you. The thing to remember, though, is that cougars don’t typically want to eat you. They’ll go after the easy prey first, such as deer, and leave you to be their meal later. Avoid physical contact with a mountain lion. If you do encounter one of these animals, make sure to stand your ground, and face the animal. Don’t run away from the cougar; doing so will only trigger its attack instinct. Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, and face the cougar directly. Keep your hands at your side, as well. If you run, it will give the cougar a good idea that you’re a threat, and this is how they make the decision to attack.
What to do if a Mountain Lion Stalks You
If you are confronted with a mountain lion, it’s important to recognize and understand the animal’s intent before deciding how to act. If you’re lucky enough to encounter a mountain lion while hiking, you’re going to want to move away quickly and as silently as possible. This will send the cat the message that you are a threat, and it should back off and avoid a confrontation. If you’re encountering a cougar in its natural environment, like the wilderness, you are more likely to avoid the animal. However, if you’re hiking on private land, especially on a mountain, you’re going to need to proceed with caution. If you see a mountain lion, take action.
What to do if a Mountain Lion Attacks You
If you encounter a mountain lion, the best thing to do is not fight back. They’re much stronger than you and will pounce on you and even kill you if they are hungry. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to escape by running away from the mountain lion, or fighting the animal. Fighting a mountain lion will probably only make it angrier and, if you’re attacked, it’s likely the animal will attack you again if you don’t first run away. If your actions do save your life, and you are attacked by a mountain lion: Run away from the mountain lion as fast as you can. Never try to approach a mountain lion. Never run from a mountain lion. Walk upright, keeping your back to the animal. Do not run or turn your back. Do not bend over, bend your legs, or crouch.