Even if the chances of a cougar encounter are very remote, and the likelihood of an attack even slimmer, we must all be aware that the possibility exists, and prepare ourselves with a plan for what to do.
Children: Remember, most cougar attacks have been on children and youths under the age of 16. Cougars are especially drawn to small children, perhaps because their high-pitched voices and erratic movements make them harder to identify as humans and not prey. So keep your kids close by, and if you encounter a cougar, pick small children up off the ground immediately.
- Never approach a cougar. Normally they will avoid a confrontation, but they can be dangerous when protecting their young or their food. All cougars are unpredictable.
- Leave the cougar an avenue of escape.
- Face the cougar and remain upright.
- Back away slowly. Do not run or turn your back to the cougar.
- Stay calm. Talk to the cougar in a confident voice. “Good kitty, that’s a good kitty…”
- Make yourself as big as possible. Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about. Raise your arms in the air.
- Convince the cougar you are a threat, not prey.
- Throw rocks at the cougar.
- Speak loudly and firmly.
- Brandish a big stick. (Or cattle prod, if you happen to have one handy!)
- If the cougar attacks, fight back.
Many people have survived a cougar attack by fighting back with rocks, sticks, bare fists, fishing poles, back packs, and so on.
Now you have a plan for protecting yourself and your children if you should encounter a cougar. And you also know that the chances of encountering a cougar are very small. You run a much greater risk of being harmed by a bee, another human, or a car.
In the next few postings I will talk about cougar signs that you can watch out for, neat facts about cougars, and the special circumstance of encountering a cougar while on a vision quest or vision fast… (to be continued)