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#90391 - 02/17/08 07:19 AM Mountain lions
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
I was listening to the news yesterday and there is evidence that mountain lions are rapidly gaining in numbers and moving into areas that have not had them before. Arkansas etc. Has anyone had experience with them and what is their nature as far as human contact?

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#90392 - 02/17/08 07:57 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Not a problem. Cougars prey on deer, which are doing quite well. My understanding is that mountain lions were distributed across the continent, so, in a sense, they are just expanding back into their homeland.

Small children are most at risk. If you encounter one, make yourself look big (put your child up on your shoulders), make noise, see kitty go away.

I started hiking in cougar country, have seen their tracks covering my tracks, have found their kills, but have not had an encounter in fifty years. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#90393 - 02/17/08 08:11 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
Fiddleback Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
It's not that they are in places they haven't been before...it's that they're returning to areas previously inhabited. And folks are moving into the cougars' habitiat which brings about more meetings between the two. Add to the mix reduced hunting pressure during the past decades and drought-induced movement by the animals and we end up with an increased population and an expanded range leading to more encounters.

Still, the cats are probably the least seen of the predators. We have/had one in the neighborhood this Fall. It took down three deer, one about 200 yards from my living room window, but all anyone has seen is tracks. About ten years ago, one was seen every Spring, just 'passing through' the yard of one of my neighbors but I have yet to spot my first lion.

The point being...some precautions are wise...e.g., no loose running pets...but, for the most part, the cougars exist unnoticed and unseen. Still, there are always stories. A few years ago, a cougar and her kittens were found under a flatbed in a trailer rental lot just blocks from the center of Missoula.

FB
_________________________
"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

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#90394 - 02/17/08 08:17 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Couple experiences I have had, they are curious. First encounter, out cutting firewood with my dog. I had finished cutting, had put my saw away and was walking out a little further to scout more trees when I saw the cat, about 100' or less away. After a few seconds, my dog realized something was out there, but with the grass higher than he could see over all he could do was sniff. I took a few steps forward then stopped, thinking, there could be more and nervously looked around. My dog took off about then and I didn't hear or see him leave. I called and he came back in a few minutes. Funny, only 6 months later then, I was out on a earyl season Mt. bike trip with a friend and we had a young cat catch a goose and eat it a little over a 100' from where we were camped. He thought it was a bobcat, I took a look and told him no, that is a lion. It stuck around for a bit until I took a second look about 30 minutes later then it walked away. All the years I have been out and about and I have two sitings within six months. In the Caribou Wilderness which is about an hour north of where I live in N. Calif., I have seen sign of cats but no cats.

Forgot, another siting, I was going to work real early one morning and about a mile from where I live, I saw a large cat, over 100 lbs. cross the road ahead of me, going down someones driveway. A neighbor was out mt bike riding less than half a mile from where we live, had a lion chase a deer across the road ahead of him.


Edited by hikerduane (02/17/08 08:20 AM)

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#90395 - 02/17/08 10:58 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3571
Loc: Texas
Mountain lions are some of the most beautiful things on earth. There have been "sightings" south of Dallas along Ten Mile Creek, which runs by my house. I have my doubts but our animal control officers say it's so. I've only seen bobcats around here, which are also wonderful things. I don't see the lions as a problem...in fact, consider yourself blessed if you EVER get to see one in the wild. They move like ghosts.
Hiking Big Bend for 30 years yielded one distant sighting, with over two dozen in the park now. As long as there is natural prey around, deer etc., there should be no threat to humans. Small children and slow pets might be a target someday if a lion becomes habituated to city life. There have been 'attacks' of children and adults in Big Bend, with no deaths or serious injuries of which I'm aware. It was more like "human surprised and startled big cat" if one reads the reports.
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#90396 - 02/17/08 11:37 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
what is their nature as far as human contact?

Unlike tigers, North American mountain lions are not disposed to become man-eaters. They prey almost exclusively on deer and there are plenty of deer for them to prey on.

Lion attacks on humans are rare. Heck, even just sightings of the big cats by humans are rare; attacks are almost non-exixtant. Small children left unattended are most at risk, just because they are such easy prey. This happens once in a blue moon, or even less often than that.

When adults are attacked it is very frequently by juvenile cats who are not accomplished hunters, yet. Adults who are attacked usually are successful at fighting off the attack, although not until the cat has inflicted some severe damage. The victims usually survive.

If you see a mountain lion and feel threatened, the advice by experts is to stand up, wave your arms, look big and aggressive, and yell at it. Grab a rock or a club if you can. Act mean and fearless. This works in your favor 99.9% of the time.

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#90397 - 02/17/08 12:01 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: aimless]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
Blue moons occur every 2-3 years, mountain lion attacks occur about 1-2 per year.

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#90398 - 02/17/08 12:20 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Dryer]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I've seen bobcats inside the city limits here in So Cal. So far, none have registered to vote...

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#90399 - 02/17/08 12:41 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Paddy_Crow]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
Thank you, Paddy. That stat gives a pretty clear picture of the relative danger of an attack from a mtn lion. It shows such an attack is much less likely than being hit by lightning.

Clarification: I would presume those 1-2 attacks per year is the total of all mtn lion attacks. However, because of the context of my "blue moon" comment, where I was referring to attacks on children, does that 1-2 per year number only refer to attacks on children?

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#90400 - 02/17/08 01:01 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: aimless]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I believe the 1-2 per year is the number of attacks on humans in California. Most of the websites are old, so they only give data for the period 1985-1995. I didn't find data for all of North America vs just CA, either. But I didn't look very hard.

One thing is certain, the population of mountain lions is growing and especially in areas that put them in contact with humans. So pure statistics would lead to the expectation that attacks will increase.

I recall hearing once that more people in the US are killed on average than any other natural phenomena. And half of them are on the golf course...

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#90401 - 02/17/08 01:21 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Paddy_Crow]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
pure statistics would lead to the expectation that attacks will increase.

Unless my math understanding is failing me, I would expect that in order to increase a rate of 1-2 per year, to a predictable 3 per year, then the rate of human-mtn lion interactions would need to increase by between 50% to 100%. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />

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#90402 - 02/17/08 04:58 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: aimless]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
The probability of an "interaction" is proportional to the populations of both mountain lions and humans in a given area. Since the mountain lion population is presently undergoing rapid growth, interactions should increase (proportional to the increase in lion population).

Simply put, if the population of humans remains constant and the population of lions doubles, I would expect the number of incidents to also double.

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#90403 - 02/17/08 06:10 PM Re: Mountain lions - Kitty Kitty??? [Re: oldranger]
Brumfield Offline
member

Registered: 12/23/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Expat from New Orleans, now in...
OldRanger wrote:
Quote:
Not a problem. If you encounter one, make yourself look big (put your child up on your shoulders), make noise, see kitty go away.


MEOW! That is one big Kitty! Here's some info that is right on topic. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15587329/

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=mountain+lion+attacked+man&btnG=Google+Search


<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> Brum
_________________________



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#90404 - 02/17/08 07:22 PM Re: Mountain lions - Kitty Kitty??? [Re: Brumfield]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Yes, this made national news, because it was spectacular and unusual, hence, newsworthy. In the months since this was reported, how many have come to grief from more mundane mechanisms like falls, drowning, and just generally being unprepared for conditions encountered? (or for that matter, auto accidents to and from the trailhead?)

Humans obsess about the spectacular and overlook the "normal" day to day hazards. We think nothing of getting in our cars and going for a drive, but the automobile accident rate is roughly similar to that suffered by rock climbers on lead (my source for this is a PBS program aired about fifteen years ago - I doubt the situation has changed much). Many people refuse to fly commercial planes because of safety concerns, preferring to drive, a act which is much more hazardous.

I just returned from a local day hike where I would not have been the least surprised to see a mountain lion. Did not see anything. The muddy washouts on the trail, and the occasionally slimy footing presented the greater hazard. For that matter, the chances of me suffering a coronary are probably greater than those of an animal attack.

I believe there is a case on record of a woman injured by a falling meteorite in her own house. Should we install armor plating on our roofs?

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#90405 - 02/17/08 09:23 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Paddy_Crow]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
While I agree that mountain lion populations are most certainly increasing, I think that a doubling of the mountain lion population would be a fairly unusual event. Human populations have been climbing faster in the past century than at any time in human history, but doublings of human population still take decades to occur.

However, given a doubling of mountain lion population in CA, one would still be looking at 3-4 attacks per year, still a pretty negligible number for a human population of 37 million.

I am willing to state, though, that not one of those 3 or 4 people would be happy about their fate. It would be terrifying and horrific for them. Yet, they are still quite likely to survive the experience and be able to tell their tale.

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#90406 - 02/18/08 08:06 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I have never seen one, but my brother walked up on one while hunting deer this last fall. He didn't have a rifle (his friend was the one with the tag, and hence the rifle, he was helping out and enjoying the walk in the woods), but he did have a small handgun. He fired a warning shot, and the cat ran off. He is still a little shaken from seeing such a big cat up so close. He laughed at me when I brought bear spray on our last trip (last fall), now he claims he won't go without a gun, not for bears but for lions.

From what I have read and seen, actually seeing a cat is rare, they are very good at not being seen.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#90407 - 02/18/08 08:28 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: aimless]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
Quote:
While I agree that mountain lion populations are most certainly increasing, I think that a doubling of the mountain lion population would be a fairly unusual event. Human populations have been climbing faster in the past century than at any time in human history, but doublings of human population still take decades to occur.

However, given a doubling of mountain lion population in CA, one would still be looking at 3-4 attacks per year, still a pretty negligible number for a human population of 37 million.

I am willing to state, though, that not one of those 3 or 4 people would be happy about their fate. It would be terrifying and horrific for them. Yet, they are still quite likely to survive the experience and be able to tell their tale.


Since the 1970's, California's lion population has increased by about a factor of 10.

The frequency of lion attacks compared to other hazards is low, but that does not change the statistics. As the lion and human populations continue to increase in areas where the species will mingle, the frequency of attacks will likewise increase.

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#90408 - 02/18/08 09:59 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Paddy_Crow]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
As the lion and human populations continue to increase in areas where the species will mingle, the frequency of attacks will likewise increase.

That would seem to be an unavoidable conclusion. I am only concerned that this calmly-stated, utterly factual statement may inspire fears that vastly over-perceive the danger.

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#90409 - 02/18/08 02:58 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: chaz]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
I run to work in a known mountain lion habitat. I even had the rare privilege of seeing one once although I have seen bobcats much more often.

When coworkers ask me if I feel safe back in those canyons I tell them I feel much more safe there than in my car on the highway leading to work. I'm sure statistics would back me up, even recent statistics.

I do take precautions. A mountain lion's usual M.O. is to attack from behind or above so I avoid running directly below hillsides and I even look behind occasionally. Since I'm usually commuting in the dark I have also considered wearing a rear facing light to confuse them.

Just FYI if you look around there are lots of TLB mountain lion threads with widely varying opinions.

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#90410 - 02/18/08 07:08 PM Re: Mountain lions - Kitty Kitty??? [Re: oldranger]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
I would not install a steel plate roof on my home because of a meteor hitting somewhere on the planet. But the fact remains that mountain lions are moving back into areas that have not seen them. ( maybe at least not in my lifetime).
I will continue to pack protection and will add bear spray to my personal arsenal.
I value all animals and consider all living creatures beautiful and worth preserving. But if it's me or them or I feel eminent threat to me or mine, I will react.
I appreaciate all the good info, opinions and facts on this subject and have come to the conclusion that humans pose a greater danger in the wide open spaces than animals.
Be safe out there and cause no harm...............if at all possible.

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#90411 - 02/18/08 09:11 PM Re: Mountain lions [Re: aimless]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
aimless,
While cougar numbers have increased in Oregon, we have things in place, like cougar HUNTING if there are more than a certain number of cougar "encounters" per year.

In California cougars are protected and they need a lot of land and since they breed like cats - they will quickly over fill any amount of land unless there is hunting. Nobody did the Cal-Cougars a favor by banning hunting.

In Oregon we can get "predation tags" and other legal right to shoot cougars that come onto our land and kill animals or sit on the front porch.

I live in cougar country. I drag my garbage can 500 feet down a dirt road through a forest to put it out Monday nights, then I walk back without the big bangy thing. Sometimes it takes just abit of belief in myself. Like skiing in to camp at midnight up the mountain where it definitely IS cougar country and they are attracked to lights, like headlights, but its hard to imagine a cougar attacking a skier with a big pack - now you guys with little packs may be at risk... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#90412 - 02/19/08 12:30 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Jimshaw]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Well, don't take this personally Jim, but I don't think you're in any danger of a Cougar attack any time soon, I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be targeted either.

I do recall vividly explaining to a 19 year old kid we were taking hiking about the possibility of Cougar attack, and explaining to him that he had to be extra careful around shopping malls and grocery stores, that they stalk young meat there....

<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
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#90413 - 02/19/08 06:48 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Jimshaw]
Fiddleback Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
Potential encounters with any wildlife, and their further habituation, might be reduced if the garbage was set out the morning of pickup rather than left to sit throughout the night. Ordinances mandating such are common here in government-loving Montana. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> Of course, problems have to develop before the ordinances are enforced in my home area but you get the point. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Despite the seeming contradiction, cougars do not breed like 'cats'. Females usually don't litter until they are into their third year and, after that, often only once every other year. While litters can be up to six kittens, the norm is two to three.

As for encounters, habitat and hunting -- some think increased conflicts are due to the skewed population of very young cougars caused by excessive hunting. Obviously this is location/cougar-population dependent and varies with each area. But one thing is certain, unless the population is hunted to below sustainability, almost any species will expand its numbers to fill an empty, but otherwise (more) suitable habitat. The varmint control programs against the coyote is a case in point. On the other hand, habitat change from drought, fire, human-encroachment, etc., not only can cause the range of a species to seemingly expand but also cause an increase in encounters.

FB
_________________________
"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

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#90414 - 02/19/08 06:52 AM Re: Mountain lions - Kitty Kitty??? [Re: chaz]
Fiddleback Offline
member

Registered: 06/22/04
Posts: 478
Loc: Northern Rockies
Quote:
...I appreaciate all the good info, opinions and facts on this subject and have come to the conclusion that humans pose a greater danger in the wide open spaces than animals. Be safe out there and cause no harm...............if at all possible.


Nicely said.

FB
_________________________
"...inalienable rights...include the right to a clean and healthful environment..." Montana Constitution

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#90415 - 02/19/08 08:37 AM Re: Mountain lions [Re: Fiddleback]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Fiddleback
fiddleback is nice stuff are you a woodworker? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

Anyway here in Bend we have no Bears and our giant Raccoons don't seem to be interested in garbage cans, and lions could care less about garbage. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />Around here everybody puts the garbage out the night before. The lions eat deer and elk up on the mountain where there are plenty.

I have had 2 mountain lion encounters. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/ooo.gif" alt="" />The first was simply a case of me being more stealthful than him and when he realized I was watching him he was gone in about 2 bounds. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

The second lion was within 20 feet (at night) and definitely wanting to attack my wife and I , <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />but I Jumped at him screaming and waving my arms (in the moonlight). he he - you should have seen the spinning legs as he jumped up and ran,. it was like something out of a cartoon - all legs and elbows, and then about 5 seconds later I see him several hundred yards away going about 60 mph. By the time my wife wakes up and says "what was that" it as over. I said "Oh it was a mountain lion but hes in the next county by now go back to sleep" so she did.

Yeah though I walk through the Valley of Death I fear no evil cause I'm the meanest Ogre in the Valley - he he.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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