mountain lion
Source: “Cougar” by Art G.

Fortunately, mountain lion attacks on humans are very rare. There are about 30,000 mountain lions living in the western United States, and there have only been 100 recorded attacks on humans since 1890. In fact, your chances of being attacked by a mountain lion are even lower than your chances of being killed in a car accident with a deer! However, they do happen, so it’s best to be prepared. Below are 7 things to do if you ever find yourself face-to-face with a mountain lion.

1. Avoid hiking alone.
Mountain lions are much less likely to engage with multiple people than if there is just one. If you bring children with you, make sure they are always within sight since mountain lions are much more likely to attack children than adults.

2. Don’t approach the lion.
You should stay calm and stand your ground or back away slowly. Mountain lions will tend to avoid confrontations with people, so you should give the animal a way to escape.

mountain lion
Source: “Mountain lion on rocks” by wplynn

3. Don’t crouch down.
Mountain lions don’t register standing humans as prey, but if you’re crouching down, you will look like a four-legged animal that could be prey.

4. Don’t run from the lion.
Running could cause the animal to decide that you’re prey and chase you. It’s much more advisable to make eye contact and confront the animal. If you have children with you who might run, you should pick them up, making sure that you don’t crouch down when you do it.

5. Intimidate the lion.
Your best chance with a mountain lion is to get the animal to see you as a threat rather than as prey. You should attempt to appear larger by opening your jacket, waving your arms slowly, and talking in a calm, loud voice. Be careful not to yell or scream as that could provoke an attack if the animal becomes panicked. Bare your teeth and maintain eye contact with the animal.

mountain lion
Source: “Out of the darkness” by Valerie

6. Throw things at it.
If intimidation tactics don’t scare the animal away, start throwing rocks, branches or whatever you can find. Toss any personal belongings you have at the animal, but keep your backpack as it could provide some protection for you if the lion decides to attack.

Throw things in the direction of the mountain lion at first, but don’t throw things at it. There’s no need to injure the animal unless it proceeds aggressively, at which point you should start throwing objects directly at it. Make sure to maintain an upright posture while you’re getting things to throw at it so the lion won’t start to consider you four-legged prey.

7. If the mountain lion attacks, fight back.
The animal will try to go for your head or neck first, so try to remain standing. Use anything you can to fight the animal, targeting the eyes and face. People have successfully fought off mountain lions with sticks, jackets, hats or even their bare hands.

However, if you follow the steps provided above, you will probably never need to fight off a mountain lion. You will be prepared to deescalate the situation before it gets that far. I hope you have a better idea now about how to handle an encounter with a mountain lion.

If you’d like to know what to do if you ever come across a bear, check out this article.

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