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What to do if you encounter a Mountain Lion on the trail

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By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0


      If you like to hike, camp or even mountain bike you may have found yourself wondering what would happen if you encountered a mountain lion.   Living in Colorado and being an outdoor enthusiast, I am confronted with this potential danger every time I hit the trail.   Luckily, I have never come face to face with one while hiking.   I will tell you though that although we can't say for sure, we do believe we were being followed by one once.  There was a very eerie feeling of being followed and it made the hair stand up on our necks, but yet we couldn't see it.  We were lucky, but we couldn't help but wonder what if it was a mountain lion and had made its presence known.  What would we have done?  Would we have known what to do?  To be ready for next time I have research this to provide not only the answer to myself, but to help my readers as well..   The information presented below is from my research conducted on the internet.   Enjoy.    

Mountain Lion Facts:

     Mountain lions which are also known as pumas, cougars and panthers are one of North America's largest cats.   They are usually tawny in color and the males can be 8 feet long nose to tail with an average weight of 150 lbs.   Females are more like 7 feet long and an average of 90 lbs.  Mountain lions can climb trees have a vertical leap of 15 feet and can run at a top speed of 35 mph.  They are ambush hunters and their main attack is a surprise pounce with a suffocating bite to the neck.

How to Prevent a Mountain Lion Encounter :

     Although encounters are very rare, here are some rules that you can follow to help you preventing an encounter.

Rule 1:     Don't hike alone     Do your best to do your outdoor activities with at least one other person.  Not only is it good for conversation-sake, but if you fall or sprain your ankle, they will be able to help you.  Also, it is well understood that most mountain lion attacks against adults occur when they're alone. 

Rule 2:    Don't hike between dusk and dawn     The time of day is also key in avoiding an encounter.   Lions are mostly active between dusk through dawn, so please keep that in mind.

Rule 3:    Make noise     You don't want to surprise a Mountain Lion, so it's wise to make noise often when hiking so they are aware of your presence.  Remember, even though you don't see one of them doesn't me that they're not out there.  

Rule 4:    Keep children close to adults     There have been studies done that show that Mountain Lions are drawn to children..   This is possibly due to their high voices or small stature.  You need to make every effort to keep children near adults while hiking in Mountain Lion country.

Rule 5:    Try to avoid bending over or crouching     Mountain Lions see anything on all fours as game for hunting, so when hiking in Lion country you should remain upright as much as possible.    


If you see a mountain lion nearby:

1.   Do not run.    Running can possibly stimulate the chase instinct, so it's best to back up slowly while talking in a strong voice.  This would normally be left as a recommended piece of advice, but a recent study conducted that analyzed all the mountain lion attacks contradicts advice telling you not to run.  Please see the link section below for the more information on this study.  .  

2.  Appear bigger     Do what you can to appear larger.   Hold up your coat to give the impression that you're larger than you are.  This will hopefully convince the mountain lion that you are more threatening and are not to be seen as prey.  .   


If a Mountain Lion approaches you:

Here are some suggestions that have helped people survive an attack.  

1.    Throw things at it     Throw anything you can grab such as rocks, sticks.   This may deter the Mountain Lion from coming closer. 

2.    Show your teeth     This tactic has worked for some people as it indicates that you are aware of the lion and are being aggressive towards it.  

3.    Fight it off     If an attack is inevitable remain standing and fight off the Mountain Lion with everything you can grasp (ex. hiking stick, backpack, jacket, etc.)    Remember that the Mountain Lion will want to go after your neck so avoid getting low to the ground and instead remain standing erect as much as possible.  


Interesting links:


1.   Here is a study that was recently conducted that suggests that running from a mountain lion may be a better option than staying put.   I hinted about this study above... If you'd like to know more please check it out here



2.    For more information on mountain lion behavior and suggested response, please click here.





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