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Avoiding Conflicts with Mountain Lions

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Mountain lions (Puma concolor), also known as cougars or pumas, are very efficient and effective predators.  Although they are normally shy and elusive around humans, lions can still present a danger to people and animals.

During times of drought or massive deer and elk die-offs, lions may be seen more frequently and in closer proximity to developed areas.  They often move closer to areas utilized by people in search of food and water.

The tips listed below can help you avoid conflicts with mountain lions - whether you're just going for a hike in the woods or making your residence in an area occupied by mountain lions.

Recreating in Mountain Lion Country

  • Try to recreate in groups of at least two people.
  • Don’t assume that just because you don’t see them, mountain lions are not around.
  • Don’t assume that unattended mountain lion kittens are orphaned—often the mother will “stash” them in a safe place while she hunts for food to bring back to them.
  • Keep children close to you—they are most susceptible to lion attacks.
  • If you see a lion, leave the area, but DO NOT RUN. If you run, the lion could view you as prey and may pursue you.
  • If the lion attacks, stand your ground. Try to make yourself look as big and threatening as possible by shouting, waving your arms, waving sticks in the air, throwing sticks and rocks in the lion’s direction, etc.
  • If the lion continues its attack, be aggressive and try to fight it off—hit the animal with rocks, sticks or any other blunt, hard object.
  • Use bear pepper spray if it’s available. Bear pepper spray has been used successfully to divert mountain lion attacks.

Living Near Mountain Lions

  • Be alert while you're outside.  Pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
  • If you keep small livestock like chickens, ducks, goats or sheep, consider penning them up at night and putting an electric fence up around the enclosure.
  • Keep cats inside if possible.
  • Small dogs can attract lions - it's better to keep small dogs inside when you're not around.
  • Watch children while they are playing outside.  Lions can not always differentiate between small children and prey animals.  When kids are playing, running, crouching down, etc., lions may mistake this for prey behavior.
  • Keep bear pepper spray in a convenient location - it can be used on aggressive lions as well as aggressive bears.
  • It's a good idea to keep the perimeter around your house clear of thick or tall vegetation. This will eliminate easy hiding places for lions and other predators.
  • DO NOT FEED DEER, ELK OR OTHER WILDLIFE! This includes putting out salt, mineral or pressed blocks.  Attracting deer and other animals to your property will also attract predators.
  • You may want to install motion-activated security lights on your property.  Again, this will reduce the lions' feeling of security and will likely discourage them from staying.
  • If a lion should attack, fight back.  Lions have evolved pursuing prey like deer that don't aggressively fight back.  Fighting back may help to reduce the severity of an attack.