Most Cougar attacks are juveniles - less than 3 years old and weighing around 100lbs. They aren't very good hunters.
I know Big Bend Ntl. Pk. better than anywhere and the cougar attacks there were all either sick animals or surprised ones. There have been no cougar caused human deaths in that park...even when one had a child's head in it's mouth for an instant. Minor injuries were all that were reported. All were fought off with bare hands or sticks/rocks. The sick cats were destroyed. The surprised one's moved on. There are regular reports of cats stalking the park services's pack burros and horses....again chased off by waving arms and rocks. I've been trying to see a cat in the wild for years...only to get barely a glimpse of one ghosting through the trees trying to get away from ME. I've had something like 5 black bear encounters....two while bicycling. In all cases, they were completely absorbed in what they were doing and paid me no attention.....even when I tried to get theirs! (they were blocking the trail/road)
It's ferel dogs that have caused me the most problems. I've fought off two. One with a trekking pole until it's owner could throttle it, and the other with pruning loppers. Both cases could have gone very badly had just a couple components of the scenario been different. We're talking pits and rottweilerss here, and more and more are being reported loose (listen to your police scanner! "mom and kids pinned in car")...it's fashionable now for young folk to sport an attack dog. I've dialed up the defense just a tad for the dogs.... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_Bull_Te..._when_attacking
Our animal control officers carry sidearms and a spray of some kind, and have used both, depending on the threat. They tell me to 'not mess around'....it's not worth the risk.