Sunday, April 8, 2012

How to avoid, fend off a mountain lion attack

Usually cougars, also known as mountain lions, don’t want to be seen and will remain hidden, but there are stories of hungry lions that have attacked humans.

Watch for signs of cougars, like paw prints, droppings, claw marks on trees or the smell of carrion. If you see any of these indications, turn back.

If you encounter a cougar, as with bears don’t turn your back to it but keep your space and give it time to retreat. Gather your group into a single cluster and get noisy. If the cougar approaches, wave you trekking poles and shout. You want to appear big to intimidate it, so don’t crouch, bend over or down to pick up children, or run. All of those moves make you look smaller. If children are about to panic and run, though, then it’s usually smarter to grab them.

If a cougar does attack, fight back in any way you can. Remember that the lion almost certainly will be stronger and faster than you. Try to protect your neck and head when doing so (in short, good luck).

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.