Mountain Lion Safety Tips
Spring and summer bring warm weather and outdoor activities. Although human versus mountain lion encounters are rare, people living or recreating in mountain lion habitat should be aware of some things they can do if they come in contact with a mountain lion.
Mountain lions live in many different types of habitat in California, from deserts to humid coast range forests, and from sea level to 10,000 feet. Generally, they will inhabit areas with plentiful deer and other prey species.
The tips below are based on studies of mountain lion behavior and analyses of attacks by mountain lions, tigers, and leopards.
For more information about mountain lions, please contact the Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Management Division at (916) 653-7203.
In case of an emergency, call your local Sheriff’s Department or the Department of Fish and Game. Emergencies may be reported 24-hours a day at (916) 445-0045.
How to minimize risks of mountain lion attacks
- Do not hike alone. Go in groups, with adults supervising children. Keep children close to you. Observations of captured mountain lions reveal that the animals seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
- Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do not run from a lion Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they do not panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the lion.
- Do not crouch or bend over. A person squatting or bending over looks a lot like a four- legged prey animal.
- Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Throw stones, branches or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
- Fight back if attacked. Some hikers have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
- In case of an emergency, call your local Sheriffs Department or the Department of Fish and Game. Emergencies may be reported 24-hours a day at (916) 445-0045.