Camp Safety: Mountain Lions

What to do if you see a Mountain Lion.

Posted on: May 23, 2018
By: Heather Rae Petersen
Camp Safety: Mountain Lions

You’re out camping and you thought you saw a mountain lion. Is your camp safe? Learn about cougars and know what to do if you see a mountain lion.

Mountain Lion. Puma. Cougar. Panther. Catamount. Gato Monte. Puma Concolor. The cat with many names lives all over the Western Hemisphere from the Yukon in Canada to Southern Andes of Chile. The mountain lion is adaptable, they live in the mountains, desert and at sea level. They’re solitary and elusive creatures; they typically don’t attack humans. You have a greater chance of getting killed by hitting a deer with your car or by a domestic dog than by mountain lion.

They’re incredible jumpers.They can leap 15 feet (4.5m) up a tree and climb over 12 foot (3.7m) fences. A Californian woman learned that, “No matter how high you build your pens, you can’t really do anything because a mountain lion can jump over a school bus. The long way.”

Mountain Lion

How to Stay Safe in Cougar Country


Mountain Lion Cougar

Mountain lions are typically more interested in ungulates (hoofed mammals) and livestock than humans, but if you do encounter a mountain lion, here’s what you should do:

What to do if you see a Mountain Lion

Mountain lions are typically more interested in ungulates (hoofed mammals) and livestock than humans, but if you do encounter a mountain lion, here’s what you should do:

  • Face the mountain lion and back away slowly, never turning your back to it. Make eye contact. Give them a way to escape.

  • Appear as large as possible. Don’t bend over, squat or crotch. If children are with you, pick them up without bending over. Raise your arms. Open your jacket. Wave your arms slowly and speak in a loud, firm voice. You want to show that you’re a possible threat, not its next meal.

  • Never run away. Running may stimulate its instinct to chase prey and attack.

  • Fight back if attacked. Mountain lions typically try to bite the head or neck, so remain standing and fight back with whatever you can find: sticks, rocks, jackets, or your bare hands.

Stay safe in mountain lion country, report all mountain lion sightings to the visitor center and keep on CanvasCamping! The chances of spotting a mountain lion while out hiking or camping is pretty low. I’ve been backpacking and hiking for over twenty years, and never encountered one. Bears are a different story; I’ve seen plenty of them. Read our bear safety blog to know what to do if you encounter a bear.


Follow CanvasCamp on Social Media @canvascamp and read our blog for more camping how to’s.