Mountain lions, also known as pumas and cougars, are without a doubt the most dangerous predators in the western United States. These sleek, fast, and stealthy ambush predators have been known to prey on both pets and humans in their ambush locations. Mountain lions are unpredictable and can be extremely dangerous, despite the fact that this is an unusual occurrence.
Example: A group of campers was sitting around their campfire in an established campground when a cougar charged into the group and killed them all. It was the predator who pushed the campers from their lawn chairs and took their dog with him. Fortunately, the dog was discovered, severely shaken but otherwise unharmed. While this is a highly unusual occurrence, it did occur in a developed campground, close to a major road, and in front of a blazing fire, and it is worth noting.
In contrast to coyotes, which are frequently seen and heard, there will almost certainly be no indication that a cougar is in the vicinity. If you do happen to see a mountain lion in or around a developed campground, call the rangers immediately. Generally speaking, these magnificent predators stay away from humans, but they can be unpredictable and have attacked humans in the past. In addition, they will almost certainly attack small children and pets.
Mountain Lion Safety Recommendations
First and foremost, do not leave small children or pets unattended outside during inclement weather. It will also help to keep them safe from coyotes, wolves, bears, and other predators as well as from becoming separated from their group. Keep your children and pets away from predators so that they do not become easy prey.
While pumas are not known to rummage through trash in the same way that bears or coyotes do, the second common-sense rule is to never leave garbage outside.
The fact that mountain lions hunt deer, despite the fact that they feed on deer, is a coincidence to many. If you feed the deer and they congregate around your camp, you may attract cougars and other apex predators as a result of your actions.
Make sure to choose a campsite that is away from rock overhangs, cliffs, dense underbrush, and animal trails if you are camping in cougar country.
When hiking, dress in bright, high-contrast clothing and hike in groups rather than going it alone. If you are hiking with children or dogs, do not allow them to roam freely; instead, keep them in a group. Make some noise while hiking; you can talk, listen to music, or even wear a bell.
Avoid crouching, squatting, or bending over because this could give the impression that you are a four-legged prey animal to a puma.
If you happen to come across a cougar, never run because doing so may trigger the animal’s instinct to hunt down prey. Instead, make direct eye contact with the other person and assert your authority. Make yourself appear larger than life. You could even open your coat and hold it out in front of you to appear taller. Throwing rocks, waving your arms, and yelling are all acceptable. Convince it that you are not a prey animal. If at all possible, avoid bending over or turning your back when picking up small children or pets.
If you are attacked, you must fight back with all your might. Mountain lions are known to go for the head and neck of their prey, so try to maintain your balance. Puncture it, poke it in the eyes, throw a rock at it. Make every effort to maintain your life.
A Magnificent Apex Predator in the Making
Because they are the fourth largest feline in the world, mountain lions have been designed for speed and gracefulness. Mountain lions are capable of jumping 20 feet into a tree or cliff when fully grown. With their powerful claws and jaws, they can easily take down large prey such as deer, elk, and livestock in short order. These big cats are nocturnal creatures who prefer to remain hidden and solitary, although sightings during the day are not uncommon.
Their natural habitat includes the desert, mountains, forests, and nearly anywhere west of the Rockies where these magnificent cats can be found. The pinelands swamps are home to an isolated population of Florida panthers, which can be found deep within the forest. While it’s understandable that you’d like to see a mountain lion, it’s preferable not to. As ambush predators, you may not even notice one until it’s too late, which makes them particularly dangerous. When viewing these beautiful and solitary creatures, it is best to stand back and observe them from a distance.