Mountain lions, Cougar, Panthers, and Puma, no matter what you call them, are animals that no pedestrian would want to see face to face on the trail. Something about those big cat eyes, heavy claws, and silent stalkers strikes fear into the hearts of even the bravest hikers. So, how to survive mountain lion attack? Keep reading to find out.
But the truth is that attacks by mountain lions, even so far only when sighted, are highly uncommon. Even in California, where large carnivores roam the hills (and sometimes neighborhoods) around major metropolitan areas, attacks tend to disappear. In fact, according to studies, you’re more likely to be attacked by a New Yorker than a mountain lion.
The numbers tell the story: Over the past 100 years, mountain lions have killed only 20 people in the United States. You’re more likely to be killed by a cow, which happens 20 times a year in the U.S. alone.
But fear isn’t a rational thing, numbers and figures don’t always calm our paranoia, especially when we’re alone in the woods. That fear may be a survival instinct; our subconscious brain may be reacting to a perceived threat. We know what a skilled hunter and adept carnivore like a mountain lion is capable of doing. And also, we know that they, (like so many other predators) are uncontrollable and unpredictable.
“It’s the psychology inherent in us to fear predators,” says biologist Diana Boyle of the Mountain Lion Foundation, a national NGO whose mission is to ensure America’s lions survive and thrive in the wild. Our fear is also partly cultural. If you spend a lot of time in the wild and live in the backyard of a mountain lion, it may be worth learning what to do when encountering a mountain lion. It also wouldn’t hurt to learn a few tricks that can completely prevent mountain lion encounters.
But are mountain lion attacks common, or are we hearing about them more often? And, as a hiker or a runner, what should you do if you encounter a mountain lion?
So, this article will give you some pointers and tips on What to Do to Survive Mountain Lion attack While Hiking?
How to survive Mountain Lion Attack?
When hiking in cougar country, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and be vigorous. Similar to avoiding black or grizzly bear encounters, a mountain lion encounter can usually be avoided by making your presence known. Sometimes, however, they may come close and show themselves, as they are trying to figure out if you are a potential meal or not? Either way, when hiking in an area where mountain lions live, the idea is that you must convince the lion that you are not a potential prey and that you are not a threat to him.
Following are some tips to avoid or deal with a mountain lion:
- Remain calm: Always hold your ground and stroll, never turning your back to the animal. Stand facing the mountain lion and stand tall.
- Make yourself as big as possible:
- Pick up your backpack and hiking pole, pick up kids, keep pets close by, and stand close to your fellow hikers. You can also slowly release your arms and unbutton your jacket.
- Try to intimidate.
- Never bow down or show your back.
- Give the cougar an escape route: Never approach a mountain lion, especially if it has kittens or is feeding.
Never! – Run – Deer is the favorite prey of mountain lions. Never turn your back to a cougar. Running away will make them think you are a prey.
- Speak aloud: Another essential tactic of what to do if you encounter a mountain lion is to make noise. Any way possible. Tap your water bottle, shout, shout, clap. Speak slowly. Make any sound that makes it clear that you are not the prey.
- Throw things: If the animal doesn’t back down, start throwing things in its direction, including rocks, boulders, and branches. If it keeps moving towards you, throw things directly at the animal. Do this without bending over or arching your back. First, try not to hit the cougar because there’s no need to hurt it (yet).
- Counterattack! – If the mountain lion attacks you, you must fight with all your heart. Use whatever tools or weapons, from rocks and sticks to hiking poles, knives, and even your bare hands. Many people have successfully fought a cougar before. Additionally, a mountain lion usually tends to the neck or head of its prey, so try to stand on your feet and face it.
- Do not approach! If you see a mountain lion, don’t go nearby. Give the cougar enough room to move around and run away; they don’t want to clash too often.
How to Avoid Mountain Lion Attack
The key to surviving a mountain lion attack is to be aware of the signs that they are active where you are. If you see a sign in your area, remove your trekking pole, prepare your spray, and be vigilant. According to the experts, the average range of a mountain lion’s habitat is 30 square miles, so even if you see signs, it may be miles away from you.
Signs of mountain lion activity
- Here are the signs that should make you extra cautious of mountain lions:
- Seeing deer, sheep, or other large animals that will be preyed upon by mountain lions.
- Seeing the carcass of a dead animal, especially a fresh one. Mountain lions have no problem feeding milk from a cadaver, whether they have killed it.
- Seeing the tracks of fresh mountain lions. Unless you have tracking, experience or haven’t seen paw prints in the snow, it will be hard to tell how fresh the track is. Their paw print can be about 2″ tall by 4″ wide and does not have clawed/nail prints (dogs do). If one toe is in front of the others, it is a cat. If both top toes are flat, it is a dog. There are exceptions, but this is a basic general rule.
Some points you should remember when you encounter a Mountain Lion:
- Never hike with earphones or headphones on. Talk loudly, sing, whistle, or clap regularly. This will let any animal in the area know that you are a human and not the usual prey or hunter.
- Another great advice is not to hike in mountain lion territory alone. A mountain lion will think twice about attacking two people, while one person may seem like an easy catch.
- Many cougar attacks occur in the early morning or evening — when the animals are most active. Always carry a bear spray with you as it can protect you not only from cougars but also against bears and other animals too. Follow these tips and you will be safe. I hope you enjoyed this article and if you want to share a story or any advice, feel free to leave a comment below, for now…Be Safe and Have Fun.!
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