23. October 2020 · Comments Off on A Worthy Refresher: Mountain Lions · Categories: Education

Mountain lions are having quite the news year in 2020. From a mountain lion kitten called Captain Cal being rescued by a firefighter in the Zogg fire to the 6-minute dramatic saga of a trail runner in Utah encountering a mountain lion family on a trail (NSFW: the link to original video contains profanity), it’s a solid reminder that chances are you live, visit, or recreate somewhere in their habitat.
In case you missed it, the Utah trail runner first came across the kittens (or cubs) and was immediately met by the mother mountain lion who instictively became assertive and aggressive in order to put some distance between her kittens and this present “danger” (the trail runner).
While this story ends well for all (the trail runner is ok and the mother mountain lion will be left alone), it’s a great time to brush up on how to recreate responsibly in mountain lion country and what to do if you encounter one of these magical creatures. If hiking with small children or pets be sure to keep them close to you. If you see a mountain lion – pick them up or call them over next to you.
1. Make and maintain eye contact.
2. Try to look larger. Hold your bag or jacket over your head and wave your arms slowly) – don’t crouch or bend over.
3. Speak loudly and back away slowly. 
4. Hold your ground. If the mountain lion approaches you, hold your ground, look intimidating, and throw things (rocks, branches, or other things you can reach without bending over) toward, not at, the mountain lion.
5. Escalation. If the mountain lion continues to approach escalate the hostility and throw things directly at the mountain lion.
6. If a mountain lion attacks. When in this position, do everything in your power to fight back! (Also seriously consider buying a lottery ticket as it’s statistically way more likely that you’ll win a lottery jackpot (1 in about 3 million odds) than get attacked by a mountain lion (1 in a billion+ odds)). 

Mountain lions can be found in the western United States but their populations have decreased significantly from historical numbers due to hunting and habitat loss. While most people will likely never be lucky enough to see one while visiting wilderness areas, never forget we’re vistors in their home. Know before you go, review what to do in case you encounter one, and enjoy your time outside. (Photo credit: USFS)