What to do if you meet a cougar

By Jenny Manzer with sources from the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment

Photo: Murray O’Neill

Cougars are magnificent and elusive, as we detail in “The elusive cougar” in the Winter 2010 issue of British Columbia Magazine.

While cougars rarely attack humans, it’s important to know how to react in a too-close encounter with British Columbia’s largest cat.

For safety’s sake, always hike in large groups, make noise, and keep children close.

If you do encounter a cougar:

  • Leave the animal an option for escape.
  • Do not run or turn your back until the cougar has moved off. Back away from the cougar slowly. Sudden movements may trigger an attack.
  • Pick up children. Cougars will key in on smaller people and/or rapid/erratic movements.
  • Make yourself large. Don’t try to hide, or crouch. Grab sticks and branches to wave.

In the rare case that a cougar attacks:

  • Arm yourself. Use rocks, sticks, speak loudly. Show the cougar you are a threat.
  • Fight back! Use fists, rocks, backpacks sticks, hiking or fishing poles. People can and do survive cougar attacks by fighting back.

 

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Christine Ly

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