Mountain lion head.
 
Photograph of mountain lion atop a cliff.

If you do see a mountain lion, no matter how thrilled you are to be one of the very few who gets such an opportunity, stay well back, and take the encounter seriously.

  • Make yourself appear as large as possible.

    Make yourself appear larger by picking up your children, leashing pets in, and standing close to other adults. Open your jacket. Raise your arms. Wave your raised arms slowly.

  • Make noise.

    Yell, shout, bang your walking stick against a tree. Make any loud sound that cannot be confused by the lion as the sound of prey. Speak slowly, firmly and loudly to disrupt and discourage predatory behavior.

  • Act like a predator yourself.

    Maintain eye contact. Never run past or from a mountain lion. Never bend over or crouch down. Aggressively wave your raised arms, throw stones or branches, all without turning away.

  • Slowly create distance.

    Assess the situation. Consider whether you may be between the lion and its kittens, or between the lion and its prey or cache. Back slowly to a spot that gives the mountain lion a path to get away, never turning away from the animal. Give a mountain lions the time and ability to move away.

  • Protect yourself.

    If attacked, fight back. Protect your neck and throat. People have utilized rocks, jackets, garden tools, tree branches, walking sticks, fanny packs and even bare hands to turn away cougars.

HOW SAFE ARE
HUMANS WHEN
LIONS ARE
CLOSE BY?


Excerpt from Outdoor Magazine
California Dept. of Fish & Game, May, 2012

"DFG does not consider mountain lion sightings near human habitation a public safety concern as long as the lion is not exhibiting aggressive behavior towards people. Mountain lions occur most anywhere you can find their primary prey, which is deer. As you likely know, deer not only live in remote forests, but also in green belts, parkways and riparian corridors along rivers. As such, mountain lion sightings in these areas are not uncommon, and DFG receives numerous reports of lions in these settings every month. Mountain lions are considered beneficial in these settings as they maintain healthy deer herds by keeping their populations in check.

DFG has scientific evidence that mountain lions inhabiting areas close to humans are no real cause for concern. We have either conducted or been associated with mountain lion studies that have monitored their movements in such areas. We typically capture mountain lions and place a radio collar on them in order to track their movements. The information gleaned from these collars has provided some illuminating results. They have indicated that mountain lions regularly use such areas more frequently than we have previously thought, and that these lions generally attempt to stay away from people.

For example, in Southern California, university researchers have placed collars on these big cats in a heavily used park. They also placed trail loggers and remotely triggered cameras along popular trails to estimate human use. Surprisingly, the results indicated that some lions were mere feet away from people who were unaware of the lion's presence. During the course of this study, no reports of aggressive lion behaviors were ever reported to the researchers or park personnel."

The American Lion:
Biology and Behavior

Spend just eight minutes and learn little known facts about the fascinating mountain lion. Get a glimpse of how a mountain lion thinks, feels, and senses. What makes the mountain lion so adaptable to a wide variety of habitats? How does their hunting differ from that of wolves and bears? What is their relationship to the ecosystem?

News: Lions Skilled At Avoiding People

10/12/2011

Mountain lions are shy and extremely stealthy when it comes to not being seen by people. Tracking collar studies have shown that even lions living on the urban edge in close proximity to millions of people are still almost never detected by us.

Radio collars and motion-activated cameras are a common way for researchers to monitor lion populations, seeing when, where, and how far the elusive cats travel. See recent videos of mountain lions in the wild, but not too far from people.