Directions Drop > Survive a Cougar Attack

Surviving a Cougar Attack: The Act-Big Technique
Preparatory Comments: Cougars, also known as mountain lions, pumas, and catamounts (in Oklahoma and parts of Texas), stalk silently. You are unlikely to notice a cougar’s presence. However, a cougar will know your movements, stalking you for miles. Cougars prefer deer, finding them in two prime locations:
• near water, and
• along canyon trails.
Cougars track movements, rather than shapes. Running, biking or cross country skiing motions mimic deer behavior. Running ignites the cougar’s predator response.
DO STAND STILL. However counter-intuitive standing still may feel, keeping your ground may save your life or prevent serious injury.

Equipment: If you know how to shoot, you may wish to carry a gun or rifle. Observe all standards concerning gun safety. Note: experienced outdoor enthusiasts disagree about the effectiveness of guns in human-wildlife confrontations. Do not carry a gun into the wilderness unless you are gun-competent.

• Carrying a gun without a permit violates most state law.
• Carrying a gun on federal property, including park land, is a felony.
• Using a gun in rocky terrain carries a serious risk of ricochet. Ricocheting bullets can kill both the shooter and bystanders.

These directions assume the reader is on foot. See notes on bicyclists at end of document.
1. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
2. Look behind yourself every 15 minutes.
3. Increase the look-behind check to every 5 minutes if you
• descend into a canyon or small valley OR
• are near water, especially flowing rivers or streams.
5. Slowly, turn and face the cougar.
6. Lower your head slightly, so you do not face the cougar with your head fully upright.
7. Maintain eye contact with the cougar.
8. Slowly, raise both arms in a large V-shape at 11:00 o’clock and 1:00 o’clock.
9. Maintain this position.
10. Be aware that time passes slowly when you are threatened. You may need to stand still, arms raised, for as long as 15 to 20 minutes.
11. If the cougar refuses to leave, you may consider shooting at the ground in front of the cougar. You risk 2 problems:
• your motion may trigger a cougar attack; OR
• bullets may ricochet, endangering you or a companion.
12. Engage your gun slowly, keeping one hand held high.

Notes for bicyclists: Riding, both speed and motion, can prompt a cougar attack. Once the cat shifts from stalking to attacking, the biker has little recourse. Learn about cougar presence before biking. Bike with a companion.
Notes on bears: These strategies do not translate to other big predators. Bears, especially Grizzly species, do not stalk prey in the same manner as cougars. The “act-big” technique tends to provoke a bear to attack.
April 16, 2006 | Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea