The mountain lion also known as cougar, panther, or puma, is tawny-colored with black tipped ears and tail. Adult males may be more than 8 feet long from nose to end of tail, and generally weigh between 130 and 150 pounds. Adult females can be 7 feet long and weigh between 65 and 90 pounds. Mountain lions live in many different types of habitat, from deserts to humid coast range forest, and from sea level to 10,000-foot elevations. They are generally most abundant in areas with plentiful deer and adequate cover.
Mountain lions are important members of the natural community. Normally, lions are very elusive and people rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion the wild. They are, however, unpredictable and have been known to attack people. The predatory behavior of a mountain lion is very similar to the domestic cat. The lion will attempt to conceal itself for a surprise attack while stalking its prey. A crouched position is assumed with the tail twitching and the ears upright. An agitated lion may snarl and lay its ears back.
Please follow the suggestions below in order to reduce the chances of an unpleasant encounter with a mountain lion:
Avoid running or hiking alone, especially between dusk and dawn when lions normally do their hunting. Make plenty of noise while you go so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.
Always keep children in sight while hiking, and within arm's reach in areas that can conceal a lion. Mountain lions seem to be drawn to children.
Hike with a good walking stick; this can be useful in warding off a lion.
How to reduce the chances of an attack when encountering a mountain lion
Do not approach a lion, especially if it is feeding with its young. Most lions will avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
Stay calm and face the lion. Do not run, because this may trigger the lion's instinct to attack. Try to appear larger by raising your hands.
Pick up small children so they do not panic and run. This will also make you appear larger. Avoid in bending over or crouching.
If the lion acts aggressively, throw rocks, branches, or whatever can be obtained without turning your back or bending over.
Fight back if attacked. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks, or bare hands.
Report any mountain lion sightings to park rangers.
Run The Planet thanks the Lost Boys 50 Mile Trail Run website (http://lostboysultra.com) for the permission to reprint the article "Camping and Hiking in Mountain Lion Habitat: Encountering a Mountain Lion".