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If you see one, here's what to do

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

While attacks on humans by mountain lions are rare, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has suggestions of what to do to if you encounter a mountain lion.

The first suggestion is to stop and back away from the animal slowly. The department's website says “running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack.” They recommend facing the animal, standing up straight and maintaining eye contact.

Never approach a mountain lion, especially one which is eating or has cubs. Always give a mountain lion a way to escape the situation.

Remain calm and talk to the animal in a calm, yet loud and firm voice.

Attempt to look larger than you are by raising your arms or opening your jacket. The MDC suggests picking up children present, so they will not panic and run, but do not lean over to pick them up.

Mountain lions kill their prey by biting the back of an animal's neck; avoid exposing the area to the lion.

If the lion appears to act aggressively, throw stones, branches, or anything nearby without crouching down or turning your back. Speak firmly and wave your arms slowly.

“You want to convince the lion that you are not prey and that you may, in fact, be a danger to it.”

Should the mountain lion attack, fight back with any items handy including rocks, sticks, hats, jackets, garden tools or your bare hands. Attempt to remain standing, or try to get back up if knocked down.

When hiking or walking in a potential mountain lion territorial area, always go with multiple people and make noise to scare off mountain lions. Sturdy walking sticks can be used to fight back against a mountain lion.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has suggestions to reduce the likelihood of a mountain lion being attracted to personal property.

The DOW recommends residents not to feed wildlife because attracting the wildlife such as deer or raccoons may attract mountain lions who feed on the animals.

Removing dense or low-lying vegetation removes the areas where mountain lions my hide near the property.

Install outdoor lighting, specifically along walkways to make sure mountain lions are visible.

Pets which are able to roam freely can become easy prey for mountain lions and outside kennels should have a secure top. The DOW also recommends against leaving pet food outside because it may attract wildlife the mountain lion may feed on.

Farmers are advised to, when possible keep livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night and to secure outbuildings.

The DOW suggests talking with children about what to do if they encounter a mountain lion and to keep a close watch on them while playing outdoors.


2/11/09: On the prowl
2/11/09: Mountain lion history examined


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