There’s been very little research on how to avoid mountain lion attacks. But mountain lion attacks that have occurred are being analyzed in the hope that some crucial questions can be answered: Did the victim do something to inadvertently provoke an attack? What should a person who is approached by a mountain lion do–or not do? The following suggestions are based on studies of mountain lion behavior and analysis of attacks by mountain lions, tigers and leopards:
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captured wild mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
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 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: In Nepal, a researcher studying tigers and leopards watched the big cats kill cattle and domestic water buffalo while ignoring humans standing nearby. He surmised that a human standing up is just not the right shape for a cat’s prey. On the other hand, a person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four-legged prey animal. If you’re in mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.
DO ALL YOU CAN DO TO APPEAR LARGER