Though you may never see one in your life time, it would be naïve to think that on any giving hike you’re not being watched by a cougar.  Cougars are beautiful and majestic creatures but can also be dangerous.  Knowing how to live and recreate in cougar country and also how to deal with an encounter are skills anyone living in an area that has cougars is important.  Here are some safety tips on how to deal with cougars.

Living in Cougar Country


  1. Learn your neighborhood.  Know where wildlife corridors where deer or elk concentrate are.
  2. Never feed pets outside.
  3. Walk your pet during daylight hours and always on a leash.
  4. If you animal goes outside limit it to daylight hours.
  5. Use animal proof garbage cans and keep garbage indoors until pick up.
  6. Use of motion-activated lights around areas you use outside your home.
  7. Cougars are most active at dawn and dust so be cautious during these times.
  8. Do not feed wildlife.  If you have bird feeders keep the area clean.
  9. Deer proof your garden and shrubs.
  10. Never keep livestock unfenced and move them indoors at night.


Recreating in Cougar Country


Like most large predators, Cougars will sense you before you see them and avoid you the best they can, but following these tips can further minimize your risks.


  1. Know your surroundings at all times.
  2. Leave your pets at home, or keep them on a leash.
  3. Hiking alone can make you a target, groups are safer.  Make noise.
  4. Keep children close and teach them to respect wildlife.
  5. Sleep 100 yards from cooking areas and keep camp clean.
  6. Use animal proof food containers.
  7. Be cautious at dusk and dawn.
  8. Never feed wildlife, Prey attracts predators.
  9. Respect wildlife and keep your distance, 100 yards at least.
  10. Avoid baby wildlife as mom is most likely close by and won’t be happy.
  11. Stay alert when you stop to rest and are making less noise.
  12. Be award that dead animals or animal calls can attract cougars.


Encountering a Cougar


Always leave animals a way to escape.  Cougars will often retreat if given a chance.


  1. Stand your ground and stay calm.  Animals can sense panic.
  2. Always maintain eye contact as it shows dominance.
  3. Children should be picked up, without bending over or turn ones back to the cougar.
  4. Back away slowly.
  5. Running will trigger a chance response in cougars, which usually leads to an attack.  DO NOT RUN.
  6. Use a loud voice and speak firmly.
  7. By chance the cougar seems aggressive, make yourself as large as possible by raising your hands over your head and make noise like clapping.
  8. In the very unusual event that a cougar attacks, fight back!  Use rocks, sticks, tools or any other item available to you.

Mountain lion and cougar safety is up to you.  Remember that when you’re hiking, you’re entering their homes and one needs to be aware of the signs and know how to react if necessary.   These safety tips could save your life.

Other Links


Black Hills Hiking

Mountain Lion Foundation

Cougar Fund

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