Mountain Lion Safety

Here are 10 things you can do to stay safe in mountain lion habitat

1. When it comes to personal safety, always be aware of your surroundings, wherever you are; conduct yourself and attend to children and dependents accordingly.

2. If you encounter a cougar, make yourself appear larger, more aggressive. Open your jacket, raise your arms, and throw stones, branches, etc., without turning away. Wave raised arms slowly, and speak slowly, firmly, loudly to disrupt and discourage predatory behavior

3. Never run past or from a cougar. This may trigger their instinct to chase. Make eye contact. Stand your ground. Pick up small children without, if possible, turning away or bending over.

4. Never bend over or crouch down. Doing so causes humans to resemble four-legged prey animals. Crouching down or bending over also makes the neck and back of the head vulnerable.

5. Try to remain standing to protect head and neck and, if attacked, fight back with whatever is at hand (without turning your back)—people have used rocks, jackets, garden tools, tree branches, and even bare hands to turn away cougars.

6. Don’t approach a cougar. Most cougars want to avoid humans. Give a cougar the time and space to steer clear of you.

7. Supervise children, especially outdoors between dusk and dawn. Educate them about cougars and other wildlife they might encounter.

8. Always hike, backpack, and camp in wild areas with a companion.

9. Don’t feed wildlife. Don’t leave food outside. Both may attract cougars by attracting their natural prey.

10. Keep pets secure. Roaming pets are easy prey for cougars.

Mountain Lion Facts 

  • Height: 1.8 to 2.4 feet
  • Length: Males 3 to 6.5 feet, Females 3 to 5.5 feet
  • Weight: Males 125-220 pounds, Females 75-140 pounds
  • Habitat: Usually remote 25 to 100+ square miles “home range” in areas of forest, swamp, grassland, desert and scrubs with, caves, or groups of rocks.
  • Diet: Squirrels, beavers, raccoons, coyotes, rabbits, birds, opossums, cattle, deer, pig, porcupine, elk, or moose. 
  • Mountain Lions can live in the wild for 20 years.
  • Can leap up to 40 horizontally and 20 feet vertically.
  • The mountain lion has a tan-colored coat, much like the African lion. The most recognizable feature of the cougar is its long and heavy tail, which measures almost two-thirds the length of the head and body.
  • Females usually breed at 2.5 years and commonly have 2 or 3 kittens (or cubs). 
  • Newborn kittens weigh about one pound, measure about a foot in length and have dark spots on their coats. Within 8 to 12 months these spots will fade. The kittens are weaned at 2 months and are soon accompanying their mother around the home area. The mother raises her young alone and trains them how to hunt. The kittens stay with her from 18 to 24 months, and then disperse to find their own home areas.

Immediately report all encounters or attacks to the

California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s 24-hour dispatch center (916) 445-0045

and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – San Diego National Wildlife Refuge at (619) 468-9245