It is good to be aware of mountain lion safety, even though mountain lions are rarely seen. You are more likely to get struck by lightning than attacked by a mountain lion. You’re more likely to be killed by your neighbor’s DOG than by a mountain lion.
I say this because I don’t want your every step in the woods to be fearful. Mountain lions don’t like confrontation, and chances are you will never see one (In thirty years, I still haven’t seen one!) Just be aware and follow these mountain lion safety tips.
How to Avoid Meeting A Mountain Lion
Mountain lions, also called pumas or cougars, are most active from dusk to dawn, particularly in areas where their prey–mostly deer and other, smaller mammals–are found.
Just like house cats, mountain lions are intrigued by objects that move quickly. If you are running, a mountain lion is likely to think you are prey. Avoid running in mountain lion country, particularly between dusk and dawn.
You can lessen your chances of meeting a lion by hiking in groups. If you have children in your party, do not let them run ahead or fall behind. It’s best if you can keep an adult at the front and back of the party.
You’re also safer if you leave Fido at home. Small dogs and cats are exactly the size of a mountain lion snack, and many pets in Estes Park who sneak out of the house end up as food for wildlife.
Small children and pets should never be left unattended outside. It’s also a good idea to put away all food, including pet food. (This is good advice with regards to all wild animal safety, not just mountain lion safety.)
What to Do if You Meet a Mountain Lion
The first thing to do if you encounter a mountain lion is take its picture! 🙂 If you should be fortunate enough to see a mountain lion, do not approach, and do not run! Stay calm. Make yourself look as large as possible. Raise your hands above your head, open your jacket and spread it wide open, hold up your hiking staff, etc.
If you are traveling with children, pick them up! Put them on your shoulders. This protects the child and makes you look bigger, too.
Next, either stand your ground or back away slowly. Tell the lion, either verbally or in your head, that you mean it no harm, but that it should back off. Do not get in between a lion and its cubs or its food. Always give the lion an escape route.
If the lion is attacking aggressively (growling, ears back, and generally behaving like an aggressive house cat), then shout, wave your arms, or throw objects at it. The idea is to convince the lion that you are dangerous.
What to Do if a Mountain Lion is Being a Jerk
If you are attacked by a mountain lion, FIGHT BACK! Deer don’t exactly make it a habit to throw a good punch in the nose when they’re being attacked, so imagine the surprise a lion would feel if its prey fought back. The nose and eyes are good places to aim. Try not to turn your back on the animal.
Although mountain lions might seem like frightening animals, I would consider it a rare privilege to meet one. And I am happy knowing that there are still places that are wild enough for them to live. Being aware of mountain lion safety is your responsibility if you want to visit their home.