Don’t Look Like Food!

Apex predators are thus named, because as adults they rarely face a natural competitor-except man. As with all living things their purpose is to survive and procreate. Food and the search for it is the most basic driver and there is a trigger that occurs with many predators that is called the ‘prey response’. Movement by other animals on the landscape, often close to the ground, makes them look like a potential meal-it increases focus, readiness, and, as you can see, here, action, on the part of this particular mountain lion. Running or walking alone in wild habitat with cover, especially at dawn and dusk, requires preparation and vigilance. Make sure you know the area, maintain situational awareness at all times and if you encounter a mountain lion

The National Park Service shares the following safety tips regarding mountain lion encounters:

If you encounter a lion, remember the goals are to convince it that you are not prey and that you may be dangerous. Follow these safety tips:

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 that 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. A human standing up is just not the right shape for a lion’s prey. Conversely, a person squatting or bending over resembles a four-legged prey animal. 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. Open your jacket if you are 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.

One thing we can share with you is that mountain lion attacks are incredibly rare and with the right knowledge, preparation and forethought, we can seek to enjoy our time outdoors and stay safe.