Mountain Lion Safety with Kids

Mountain Lions, Pumas, or Cougars are all the same animal.  They can be found throughout the Rocky Mountains along with many other common mammals.   It is important that all people, especially parents and children, know how to be safe when they are outdoors in Mountain Lion territory.

Even though Mountain Lions live in the Rocky Mountains, it is rare for a person to actually see one when out on a trail or camping.  That does not mean that the Mountain Lions are not out there and don’t see you.

mountain lion

A mountain lion surveying its surroundings.

It is estimated that there are 30,000 Mountain Lions in the Western United States.  Each animals needs a large amount of room to live and has a home range that varies from 10 square miles up to hundreds of square miles.

The good news is that they generally try to avoid humans, but they do occasionally attack humans – especially children and solitary hikers.  Statistics show that on average there are only 4 attacks and 1 fatality a year.   But, people are now living and spending time hiking and camping in their areas.  So, they are out there and the question is what should you do to remain safe in Mountain Lion areas?

Think About Mountain Lion Safety

The first and most important thing people need to do is to think about being safe at all times when outdoors.  This means not leaving food out around your campsite or house, which may just attract Mountain Lions.

Don’t hike alone – try to hike in groups of people as you will not be seen as an easy target.

Keep your children near you – don’t let them go running far ahead on the trail, especially make sure they are not running ahead around corners where you can not see them and they may startle an animal.

Don’t wander around at night – Mountain Lions are nocturnal, which means the main times that you may encounter them is when they are hunting at night, dusk, and dawn.

What Should You Do if You See a Mountain Lion?

If you see a Mountain Lion you need to make it realize you are not prey and that you may be dangerous so that it should stay away from you.

Give the animal a lot of room – do not approach it and give it a way to leave.

Do not run – running from one may trigger it’s hunter instinct and cause it to chase and hunt you.

Make eye contact – making eye contact will make the Mountain Lion think you are a predator since you are not afraid to look it in the eye.

mountain lion safety kids

Pick up small children if you see a Mountain Lion.

Pick up small children – picking them up will both protect them and keep them from panicking.  If you can, remain facing the Mountain Lion and maintain eye contact as you pick up your children.

Stand tall and make yourself large – if you bend over you may look like prey to the Mountain Lion.  Instead stand tall and make yourself seem as large as possible.  You can raise your arms, and open your jacket.

What Should You Do If a Mountain Lion Attacks?

If you are attacked fight back with everything you can.  Try to remain standing and face the animal and fight back with anything you can, such as sticks, rocks, hiking pole, your fists.  Following these tips will help keep you safe the next time you are outdoors in Cougar habitat.

In addition to Cougars, it is important to know how to be safe in bear country with kids or to be safe around moose with kids.


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