2002-09-26 / Community
Here’s what you should do if confronted by a mountain lion
The U.S. Forest Service reports that there have been only 13 fatal mountain lion attacks in the last 100 years.
The California Department of Fish and Game has published a brochure titled "Living with California Mountain Lions." The following are tips they recommend should you encounter a mountain lion.
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
DO NOT APPROACH A LION: Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
DO NOT RUN FROM A LION: Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal.
Make eye contact.
If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
DO NOT CROUCH DOWN OR BEND OVER: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat’s prey.
On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you’re in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER: Raise your arms or open your jacket if you’re wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back.
Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: A hiker in Southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.