With hiking and camping season coming right up in most of the places where mountain lions live, we thought this would be a good time to talk about good mountain lion safety practices for being in the outdoors.
First, you should know that you have incredibly small odds of even seeing a cougar at all, let alone having an interaction with one. If you do see one in a safe manner, you should consider yourself extremely lucky! Very few people in the world will get to see something as awe-inspiring as a wild mountain lion. The threat of a dangerous encounter is very rare.
If you do have an encounter with a cougar it will help to know what steps you can take. You can do this by making noise when you are hiking and biking, especially at dawn and dusk. Travel together with friends. If you enjoy the outdoors with children (we hope you do!), have children stay close to adults.
If you see a cougar at a close range, first and foremost, don't run! And, make yourself look big. Don't bend down to pick up a stick, but if you are already carrying a walking stick or wearing a jacket you can raise it above your head to make yourself look as big as possible. You'll want to use your voice to talk in a loud firm voice and tell the cougar to get away. This video from Western Wildlife Outreach does a great job of showing a demonstration of what this looks like. http://westernwildlife.org/videos/ (it's the first video on the page). Plus it's narrated by Chris Morgan, the same fine voice talent that narrated our Secret Life of Mountain Lions video!
We hope you have great plans this summer for adventures in the wide-open spaces that support cougars AND humans in important wild ways! For more information on how to avoid a negative encounter with a mountain lion, bear or wolf, go to Western Wildlife Outreach website http://westernwildlife.org/videos/
Ask nearly anyone who has had the experience of seeing a cougar in the wild, and you will hear words like amazing, surreal, and profound. The odds of seeing a cougar at all are very slim, and the chances of having a negative interaction with a cougar are smaller still. But with hiking season approaching soon, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about some safety tips for being outdoors in mountain lion territory.
Fortunately for us, The Western Wildlife Outreach has already compiled some great tips, including things about protecting your pets and livestock if you live in mountain lion country. Have a look here http://westernwildlife.org/cougar-outreach-project/tips-for-coexistence-with-cougars and then let us know if you have any more of your own tips to add.
Enjoy your hikes!